Smokers Could Pay More to Support Their Nicotine Habits - - The News for South Mississippi

Smokers Could Pay More to Support Their Nicotine Habits

State lawmakers are considering another bill that targets smokers. The plan calls for raising the price of cigarettes by 25 cents per pack. Though the increase make Mississippi's tobacco tax. closer to national average, some smokers say this may be the last straw for them to finally quit.

The owner of a discount tobacco shop on Dedeaux Road in Gulfport says if the price of cigarettes goes up, it's won't be him or the cigarettes companies that will feel the pinch. It will be the consumers.

"Back when they had a five dollar price of a carton increase, they didn't' stop to many of them [smokers] then," said store owner Bruce Cuevas." That was a big jump then. They're gonna keep on smoking, because people got use to doing it and it's hard to get away from it."

Several state health agencies support the increase. They say it'll encourage more people to break the nicotine habit.

Novilee Cuevas, a smoker, said "It would encourage me to slow down quite a bit. I smoke a carton and a half a week right now, and if it goes up 25 cents a pack that's gonna be tough."

"The new tax and way they're putting money on it, I think I'll quit smoking to keep from being robbed anymore," said smoker Philip Hancock.

Revenues from cigarette taxes along with a five percent tax hike on other tobacco products is expected to raise 67 million dollars. Some legislators say that money could help fund things like education and housing. Some smokers say making them bare the burden of a struggling budget could backfire.

Ralph Congdon said "It's also going to cut down on their revenue because they start raising the prices higher than what they are now there's gonna be a lot of people that are going to save 300 dollars a month for smokes."

Mississippi's cigarette tax ranks 39th in the country. A 25 cents increase would place the state at 23rd.

by Danielle Thomas

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