1. Increase funding for the Mississippi tobacco control prevention and cessation program;
2. Ensure smokefree protections for all workers and residents with the passage of a comprehensive statewide smokefree law; and
3. Increase Mississippi's cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack.
Members of the Mississippi Legislature once again failed to consider legislation that would prohibit smoking in all public places, workplaces and casinos during the 2020 legislative session. Tobacco control partners continued to educate lawmakers on the harmful effects of secondhand smoke and the impact on health in Mississippi. A comprehensive statewide bill, House Bill 101, the Mississippi Smoke-free Air Act of 2020, was introduced, but did not garner the support needed for momentum through the policy process.
Numerous bills were introduced in the House and Senate to increase the price of cigarettes and e-cigarettes through the allocation of a significant tobacco tax. While there was continued interest in increasing the price of tobacco products, these bills were unable to move prior to the legislative deadlines. Bills were filed and considered to raise the minimum legal sales age of tobacco products to 21 years old and to institute regulations on e-cigarettes. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 2596 included weak tobacco policy language that included harmful provisions for youth, but was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. Senate Bill 2596 does not go far enough to have a significant impact on youth tobacco use in Mississippi. 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 a total of 171 cities and 5 counties adopting comprehensive smokefree ordinances. This accounts for approximately 30% of Mississippians being protected by smokefree policies.
In 2021, the American Lung Association in Mississippi will continue to advocate on the benefits of tobacco control policies, including the need to protect all workers by passing a comprehensive smokefree air law and increasing the price of tobacco products. In order to meet the bold goals 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.
Economic Cost Due to Smoking: $1,236,940,761
Adult Smoking Rate: 20.4%
High School Smoking Rate: 6.6%
High School Tobacco Use Rate: 27.6%
Middle School Smoking Rate: 1.5%
Smoking Attributable Deaths per Year: 5,410
Adult smoking data come from CDC's 2019 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. High school smoking and tobacco use rates are taken from the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. Middle school smoking rates are taken from the 2017 Youth Tobacco Survey.