Analysis: Chairmen tamp down talk of big jump in tobacco tax

It’s been nearly a decade since a former tobacco lobbyist signed a law that increased the Mississippi’s state cigarette tax from 18 cents to 68 cents a pack.

Now, about 20 health advocacy groups are starting to push for a tax increase of $1.50 a pack, plus “parallel” increases on chewing tobacco, during the 2018 legislative session.

They say the plan could generate about $200 million a year for the state budget and make smoking and dipping more expensive to deter young people from starting a tobacco habit that could cause addiction and long-term health problems.

However, the chairmen of the tax-writing committees are tamping down expectations.

Emily Pettus