House Committee Focuses on Public Health with Increased Tobacco Tax, Greater Access to Affordable Health Care
The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote today on legislation that if enacted would greatly improve public health.
JACKSON, MS – February 4, 2021 – As lawmakers continually look to address the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to significantly increase Mississippi’s dangerously low tobacco taxes (40th cigarette tax in the nation) has never been more clear. Smoking rates among adults and youth in the state remain dangerously high and the pandemic has placed a heightened awareness on the important role public health plays in Mississippians’ ability to live a full and healthy life, free from the ills of tobacco use.
“With annual health expenditures in directly caused by smoking totaling $1.23 billion, increasing the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack would save $584.53 million in long-term health care costs due to youth and adult smoking declines. In just 5 years, the state would save $1.81 million in Medicaid costs,” shared American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Mississippi Government Relations Director Kimberly Hughes.
Research shows that enacting a large tobacco tax increase is one of the most effective methods to help adults quit and reducing youth initiation of tobacco products. In fact, a tax increase of $1.50 per pack of cigarettes is estimated to prevent over 8,800 youth from becoming adult smokers and prompt an estimated 19,300 adults who currently smoke to quit. “The state’s low tobacco tax means deadly tobacco products remain cheap and all-too-affordable, especially for Mississippi youth,” added Claudia Rodas, Regional Director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
“We cannot allow the health of Mississippians – particularly our children – to continue to suffer at the hands of Big Tobacco. A significant tobacco tax increase of $1.50 per pack, paralleled with an increase on all other tobacco products, will help bring down tobacco use rates while also ensuring a strong economic foundation for some of Mississippi’s most crucial services. It will put the health of Mississippi families first.” The lifesaving measure is supported by more than 70% of voters across party lines according to the most recent 2019 poll.
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top
priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society's nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.
About the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is the leading advocacy organization working to reduce tobacco use and its deadly consequences in the United States and around the world. Through strategic communications and policy advocacy campaigns, we promote the adoption of proven solutions that are most effective at reducing tobacco use and save the most lives. For more information, visit tobaccofreekids.org.