Tobacco Tax Supporters Continue To Fight For Increase - - The News for South Mississippi


Tobacco Tax Supporters Continue To Fight For Increase

"We think that its time for the legislature to step up and put the health of Mississippians as a priority," said Dana Luquire.

Dana Luquire, who is a communications specialist for the American Cancer Society, believes state legislators have once again made an unhealthy move by failing to pass a bill that would place a one-dollar tax increase on tobacco products.

"It's been shown that an estimated 36-thousand children throughout the state of Mississippi would never even start smoking if this tax was to be implemented. And also there is an estimated 30-thousand Mississippians that would quit smoking," said Luquire.

Luquire says if the tax was enforced, the state would generate over 180-million dollars in new revenue, which would help to ease some of the financial setbacks of the state's Medicaid program.

The subject of a cigarette tax increase has been a touchy issue among many smokers who believe it's nothing more than discrimination.

Luquire disagrees.

"It has been proven that smoking kills more than alcohol, AIDS, murders, anything combined. Smoking kills more people and more Mississippians than any of those other things and I guess that's why we're going after tobacco. We know that more and more children are starting to use and things like that. So it's really looking out for the long run," said Luquire.

A tobacco tax increase may not come this year or in the near future, but Luquire says her organization will continue its mission.

"We know that the fight is not over. And we're not going give up. We're standing firm in what we believe in and that's saving lives," said Luquire.

State house leaders say other new taxes could be proposed to help finance the state's Medicaid program.

Governor Haley Barbour has said in the past he will veto any new tax bills.

By Karla Redditte

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