The Clarion-Ledger, 11/19/8

Mississippi was the first in the nation to sue the tobacco industry in the 1990s but spends about a fourth of what a Washington-based advocacy group says it should on tobacco-prevention efforts.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a report released Tuesday, ranks Mississippi 23rd in the nation for its funding of tobacco-prevention programs. The state used to be nationally recognized for its efforts.

And the group isn’t very impressed with Republican Gov. Haley Barbour’s cigarette tax proposal.

Barbour has proposed asking lawmakers to approve a 24-cent increase on every pack of premium cigarettes sold in Mississippi. The increase would be higher on packs produced by tobacco companies that didn’t participate in the state’s 1997 settlement with the tobacco industry.

Peter Fisher, vice president of state issues for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said Barbour’s proposal would have little impact on public health.