Time to Increase Mississippi's Tobacco Tax
February 17, 2018, The Clarion-Ledger, Lynn Evans- If there were a way to reduce deaths from cancer, heart disease and strokes, reduce infant mortality and prematurity, and save the state coffers about $4.25 million in Medicaid costs over the next five years, you would think state leaders would be falling all over themselves to do it. The one easy way to accomplish all these things and increase state revenues at a time when Mississippi sorely needs to do so is to increase the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products by at least $1.50 a pack. The best reason to increase Mississippi's tobacco tax is that it will result in 26,500 current adult smokers quitting and 22,800 children and teens who will never start smoking, according to Tobacco Free Kids. Increasing Mississippi's tobacco tax is so difficult because of our state's strong Libertarian bent, the belief of many legislators that they will be punished by voters if they support increasing tobacco taxes, and Big Tobacco's willingness to spend if any state seems poised to increase its tobacco tax.