Docs look for traction on cigarette tax; legislators see pot holes

May 20, 2018, Daily Journal, Michaela Gibson Morris- Mississippi Medical Association President Dr. William Grantham has been traveling around Mississippi, aiming to build bridges and reduce the state’s smoking rates. The Clinton family physician and the medical association are proposing a $1.50 hike in the cigarette tax, which would mean smokers would pay $2.18 in tax on every pack. The additional revenue would generate an estimated $166 million, well over a third of the $400 million needed for infrastructure.“This is a public health initiative more than anything else,” Grantham said. “Where the revenue goes is less relevant than that it needs to get done.” Higher taxes encourage existing smokers to quit; it is especially effective in diminishing youth smoking. Fewer smokers decrease the rates of cancer, lung disease, heart attacks and strokes, he said.“Cigarette taxes have not increased since 2009,” Grantham said. “We’re way below the national average.”

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