Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour fought back an effort to make groceries more affordable for state residents because it would also raise the cost of cigarettes, according to supporters of the measure. The bill would have cut the grocery tax by one-half and raised the state’s $.18 per pack cigarette tax, the third lowest in the nation, to $1 per pack. Anti-smoking advocates are outraged. Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says Barbour, a former tobacco lobbyist, is more loyal to his former tobacco industry clients than to the citizens of Mississippi. "It’s a governor who’s still acting like a tobacco industry lobbyist and using the same tactics," said Myers. Mississippi has the highest percentage of citizens living below the poverty line at 23.1 percent and the highest grocery tax in the nation at seven percent. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. The bill was popular. It passed in the Mississippi House of Representatives but missed the two-thirds majority needed in the Senate by three votes. Last year a similar state swap tax was approved by both the House and Senate, but Barbour vetoed it. Republican Sen. Tommy Robertson, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, supported the legislation last year but opposed it yesterday because he knew Barbour would veto it. "There never was the vote for it to become law, so I did not see why there should be a bloody fight on the floor. Yesterday, they proved me right. It does not have the votes to overcome a veto," said Robertson. Myers says the bill would have helped to save lives by reducing smoking. Each year thousands of people are diagnosed with lung cancer in Mississippi. In 2004, Mississippi ranked fourth in cancer mortality in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. Barbour’s office did not return calls requesting comment. Barbour served as a lobbyist for tobacco clients from 1998 to 2002. Tobacco companies paid his firm, Barbour, Griffin, & Rogers, a total of $3.8 million, according to reports obtained by the United States Senate Office of Public Records.