Mississippi cigarette tax appears dead

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 26, 2009

JACKSON (AP) — Negotiators in the Mississippi House and Senate failed to agree on a cigarette tax increase by a Wednesday night deadline, likely killing the issue for the year.

The only way to revive the discussion is with a two-thirds vote in both chambers — a difficult task, given some lawmakers’ opposition to increasing any taxes.

‘‘Big Tobacco won again,’’ Katherine Bryant, public advocacy director for the American Heart Association, said after talks broke down.

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Mississippi’s current cigarette excise tax of 18 cents a pack is the third-lowest in the nation. Some legislators saw an increase as a way to generate more revenue for the anemic state budget.