House panel clears tobacco tax-hike bill

House Bill 364 cleared a key committee today. It still needs approval from other House lawmakers before it heads to the Senate for consideration.

The bill would increase the state’s 18-cent tobacco tax to $1 per pack. It would generate more than $200 million dollars for the state’s general fund, lawmakers said.

Gov. Haley Barbour recently removed his longstanding objection to a tobacco tax hike. But Barbour has suggested a 24-cent hike on premium-brand cigarettes and an additional 43 cents on smaller brand companies that are not participating in the state’s lawsuit settlement with tobacco companies.

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant is objecting to the hike without an accompanying tax cut.

Clarion Ledger