Mississippi cigarette tax increases nearly dead

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - With less than three weeks left in the 2018 regular session, an effort by Mississippi lawmakers to raise tobacco taxes has failed so far.

Senate Bill 3048, which could have been used to raise taxes, is dead after the House Ways and Means Committee didn't take it up before Tuesday's deadline.

As written, the bill didn't increase tobacco taxes, but it included parts of state law that could have been amended raise them.

Health advocates are seeking a big jump in Mississippi's taxes, aiming to curb smoking.

However, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith, a Columbus Republican, says it's still possible that lawmakers could rewrite any of four bills to increase taxes.

If tobacco tax hikes rise from the dead, the legislature has until March 24 to act.