Mississippi Misses the Mark

Posted 4th February 2021 by Dave Cross
Inmates in the state of Mississippi are soon going to be able to buy cigarettes officially, ten years after it was banned, because legislators say they were smoking anyway. Compounding the sense that politicians have totally lost the plot, a majority in the Mississippi House of Representatives voted to enact stricter measures on vaping and vape devices.

Assistant Deputy Commissioner Leo Honeycutt was the one landed with the task of justifying allowing prisoners to buy packets of cigarettes and smoke: “It will cut down on the contraband and gangs using contraband to extort inmates. It will be safer for everybody.

Our plan was to get the current free prices, or the prices tobacco is sold for by retailers. We don’t want price-gouging in the prisons.”

Pricing policy means that prisoners will be able to purchase packs of 20 for just over £4. Well, that is the aim because some inmates have supplied the price lists they’ve been given to local media outlets and show that prisons are using their monopoly position to charge twice that – which is more than is being paid on the black market.

Commissioner Burl Cain said in a written statement: “By selling the same cigarettes that are allowed to free people, we are breaking the contraband tobacco trade…recouping for taxpayers some of the dollars it takes to run state prisons.”

So, like everything regarding tobacco and vape policy in the States, it always seems to come down to money over health.

Vape Club

This is what lies at the heart of legislators’ fresh attack on tobacco harm reduction as Senator David Blount introduced a bill redefining a vape device as an “electronic smoking device”. Now it’s a smoking device he can rationalise placing an additional 15% tax on each item.

Senate Bill 2182 states: “Electronic smoking device” means any device that can be used to deliver aerosolized or vaporized nicotine to the person inhaling from the device, including, but not limited to, an e-cigarette, e-cigar, e-pipe, vape pen or e-hookah. Electronic smoking device includes any component, part or accessory of such a device, whether or not sold separately, and includes any substance intended to be aerosolized or vaporized during the use of the device. Electronic smoking device does not include any battery or battery charger when sold separately. In addition, electronic smoking device does not include drugs, devices or combination products authorized for sale by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as those terms are defined in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Vape devices just carried the normal sales tax applicable to any product, but this wonderful new measure is guaranteed to have ex-smokers thinking about taking up tobacco again – and deter current smokers from quitting – so the state can benefit from all that additional income.

In addition, the new law will criminalise vapers under 21-yrs for simply possessing an ecig or vape device!

Mississippi – what a state to be in. No wonder it was found to be “The Most Corrupt” in America [link].

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 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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