The state of Mississippi could be set to tax e-cigarettes at the same rate as conventional cigarettes if a bill in the Mississippi Legislature becomes law.
State Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, filed Senate Bill 2062 that would tax e-cigarettes and vaping products at the same 15 percent excise tax as cigarettes. The bill will be handled by the Senate Finance Committee.
“I continue to believe that electronic cigarettes and vaping products ought to be taxed at the same rate as regular cigarettes,” Blount told the Northside Sun. “There are different ways of taxing these products since some of them are in liquid form. I’m open to any way that works, but the simplest way is to just tax them like a pack of cigarettes based on their retail price.”
Two years ago, Blount authored a similar bill that was approved by the Finance Committee for a floor vote, where it missed the three-fifths majority for passage by one vote. A three-fifths majority is required on any tax-related issue, according to Senate rules.
Blount has gone for a more simplistic approach in this year’s bill. Instead of a 5 cent levy on every liquid milliliter of nicotine like in his previous bill, e-cigarettes would be taxed at the same 15 percent rate as conventional cigarettes.
According to statistics from the state Department of Revenue, the state’s tobacco tax generated $145 million in revenue in fiscal 2021, which ended June 30. In fiscal 2020, the tax generated about $138 million in revenue.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Mississippi is one of 20 states that don’t levy taxes on e-cigarettes. The only neighboring state on the CDC list that assesses a tax is Louisiana, which levies a tax of five cents per each liquid milliliter of nicotine.
Blount says the state is often on the hook for the health risks with tobacco products with increased healthcare taxes and that the products should be taxed appropriately like cigarettes.
The CDC says 480,000 people die prematurely in the United States annually and another 16 million have a serious illness caused by smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke.
A recent study by the University of Southern California says that second-hand nicotine vape exposure can increase the instance of bronchitic symptoms and shortness of breath among young adults. The study used a population of 2,097 high school students in the 11th and 12th grades in southern California measured over a four-year time span.