The Clarion-Ledger, 3/31/9

Rising cigarette prices and a sputtering economy are causing more tobacco users to search for ways to quit.

Calls to the Tobacco Quitline usually average about 495 a month in Mississippi. For March, they’re on pace to hit 750.

“We have people call who have been cut off from their jobs, run out of unemployment (benefits),” said Pamela Luckett of Jackson, director of the Tobacco Quitline. “They simply can’t afford to be tobacco users anymore.”

She said those seeking to quit also have cited the increased costs of smoking. Manufacturers recently raised the prices of cigarettes, and the federal excise tax on cigarettes is expected to rise to $1 on Wednesday. In Mississippi, the average price for a pack of cigarettes is $3.55 and will go to $4.06 Wednesday.