UPDATE: Cigarette tax increasing for 1st time since '85

JACKSON – Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, a former tobacco lobbyist long opposed to raising Mississippi’s cigarette tax, has relented in the face of slumping budget revenues and signed the state’s first increase in nearly a quarter century.

Mississippi’s 18-cents-a-pack excise tax hadn’t changed since 1985 before Wednesday’s bill signing. On Friday, it goes up to 68 cents a pack.

Barbour spokesman Dan Turner said the governor declined to comment on the legislation.

The tax hike comes as Mississippi struggles with an estimated revenue shortfall of $400 million for the year that ends June 30. The cigarette tax is estimated to generate more than $113 million for the year that begins July 1.

The Associated Press