Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Mississippi. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by Mississippi's elected officials:
- Increase Mississippi's cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack;
- Ensure smokefree protections for all workers and residents with the passage of a comprehensive statewide smokefree law; and
- Sustain tobacco control prevention and cessation funding for the Mississippi State Department of Health, Office of Tobacco Control.
Numerous bills, including three Senate bills and one House bill, were introduced to increase the price of cigarettes by at least $1.00 per pack. Unfortunately, these bills were unable to move prior to the legislative deadlines. With the significant discussion and interest in increasing the price of tobacco products, the cigarette tax code section was brought forward into Senate Bill 3048, however, it did not include an amount for an increase to tobacco products. This bill was unable to pass. The House of Representatives and the Senate did pass legislation to sustain the amount of funding to the Mississippi State Department of Health's Office of Tobacco Control for youth prevention, tobacco free community coalitions, and adult cessation programs statewide.
There continues to be significant support in local municipalities for public health protections from secondhand smoke as evidenced by 150 cities adopting comprehensive smokefree ordinances. This accounts for approximately 34 percent of Mississippians being protected by smokefree policies.
In 2019, the American Lung Association in Mississippi will continue to educate and advocate state legislators about the benefits of tobacco control policies, including increasing the state's cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack. In order to meet the bold goals called for by the Lung Association in Mississippi, state legislators will need to recognize the health and economic burden of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. The Lung Association in Mississippi will continue to work with partners in the Smokefree Mississippi coalition to ensure successful passage and preservation of comprehensive local smokefree ordinances
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