Cigarette Tax Increase To Aid Healthy Future

Patsy Seymour of D'Iberville is paying a pretty penny to support her nearly 47-year habit.

And she doesn't plan to quit anytime soon.

"I'm getting three cartons. I'm getting a carton of Marlboro too," Seymour said.

Patsy didn't change her tune when I told her about a coalition of state organizations that will propose a 50-cent cigarette tax increase in January - raising the tax from the current 18-cents to 68 cents per pack.

"I can't help it baby. I'm gonna smoke 'em. They can do what they want to do.They want to raise cigarettes, then why don't they do something with all this liquor," Seymour said.

But not everyone is so ready to pay the price.

"It's ridiculous the way the prices have gone up, so I'd have to quit, plus it's getting the best of me probably," said smoker Henry Saladrigas of New Orleans.

If the proposed increase passes, a carton of cigarettes would cost smokers nearly seven dollars in taxes.

"Studies have shown and clearly have proven that a significant increase in the cost of a pack of cigarettes can drastically reduce the amount of use who begin smoking and who continue smoking," said American Cancer Society Regional Manager Brian Rubenstein.

And that's the purpose of this community health forum held Friday in Gulfport - a possible solution that will have multiple benefits.

"What we're doing is we're talking in terms of a community for a cleaner bill ordinance, trying to impact not only the health of Mississippians but also the economics of smoking in Mississippi," said Brian Lake, the executive director of the American Cancer Society.

The Communities For A Clean Bill of Health as well as the American Cancer Society are sponsoring "Healthy Future" forums throughout the state.

The forums are designed to educate the public on the benefits of increasing cigarette tax.

The next stops will include Southhaven, Meridian, and Jackson.