It’s about to get a lot more expensive to smoke in Mississippi. State cigarette taxes will soon jump by 50 cents in the state, from the current 18 cent tax to a costly 68 cents per pack, lawmakers voted this week, the Associated Press reported.
The bill passed overwhelmingly in both the state Senate (40 to 4) and in the state House (102 to 18). Gov. Haley Barbour, a former tobacco lobbyist, who originally opposed to the bill, agreed to sign the tax increase into law. Currently, the state tax is the third lowest in the country and the new increase will mark the first time cigarette taxes have been raised in the Mississippi since 1985. Lawmakers have been trying to pass a cigarette tax for years, but Barbour had stood in the way until the tax commission he formed released a study recommending the cigarette tax, and he allowed himself to be swayed.
The tax increase in Mississippi follows on the heels of the recent federal cigarette tax boost of 62 cents. With the two tax increases combined, the average price of a pack of cigarettes in Mississippi will climb from $3.55 to $4.56.
The revenue brought in by the new tax will help lower the cost of car license tags and other state services.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Percy Watson (D-Hattiesburg) said the tax was expected to generate nearly $113 million next fiscal year