Cigarette tax hike economically sound

Published 6:00 am Monday, March 28, 2005

Dear Editor,

It’s tax time for all Mississippi households.

According to state data, each household in Mississippi iscurrently assessed $470 in taxes to cover illnesses caused bysmoking, including but not limited to cancer, lung diseases, heartattacks, strokes, etc.

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The annual costs in Mississippi directly caused by smoking are$561 million. Of that, $206 million is covered by Medicaidannually. For every pack of cigarettes sold in Mississippi, thestate receives 18 cents yet spends almost $7 to treat smokingrelated illnesses.

The average smoker (one pack per day) pays 18 cents per day or$65.70 per year in cigarette taxes. Smokers generate about $48million total in taxes to the state. Yet, the annual costs are $561million.

If the average smoker paid $1.18 in cigarette tax per pack, thatsmoker would personally generate $430.70 annually in taxes fromhis/her smoking. That is close to what nonsmoker households have topay ($470.00) for the bad habits of smokers.

The $1.18 tax on a pack of cigarettes will generate $184 millionper year and will help to offset what smokers are costingnonsmokers.

AARP Mississippi supports an increase of $1 in the cigarette taxas a way to keep our grandchildren from smoking. We support the taxincrease because we feel smokers should help pay for the highmedical expenses their habit causes.

Mary Burciaga,

state president,