Poll suggests voters likely to raise Missouri cigarette taxes

Some Cigs

In 2002 and 2006 Missouri voters denied cigarette tax increases, but this year’s campaign to hike the tax is ahead by essential revenue, in accordance with a review done for The Star.

The system to increase Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation tobacco tax from 17 cents per pack to 90 cents per pack was maintained by 52%, versus 40% opposed and 8% undecided.

Joann Williamson of Raymore supports Proposition B to raise the tax. Williamson, a former smoker, supported tax increase as that part of the money is intended to go to schools.

She said that if the voters keep word and money goes to schools, it will be a benefit for everyone. “If you can afford to smoke, you can afford to support the schools.”

Robert Honn of Clinton as well supports the tax hike. Honn smoked many years before quitting. He worries about a daughter who is a smoker.

Honn considers that Missouri’s cigarette tax is just too low. He hopes that sometimes his daughter will wake up and see that she can not afford cigarettes.

However, there are those who are against the tax increase. Ralph Saberry, from Ozark, south of Springfield, said he does not accept the tax increase. Saberry, who has never been smoker, said that the tax won’t be an obstacle, it will hit low-income people the hardest and they will continue to use cigarettes.

In 2002 and 2006, the largest cigarette makers in USA spent millions to oppose any tobacco hike. But this time these companies think Proposition B closes a gap that put them at a competitive pricing disadvantage with smaller tobacco firms.

At 17 cents per pack, Missouri’s tax is nearly half as much as the next lowest in the nation and well below the $1.49 national average. In Kansas, the tax is 79 cents a pack.

If the tax increase is approved, Proposition B would get about $283 million to $423 million a year in additional cigarette tax income.

This money would be directed to the Health and Education Trust Fund, where 50% would go to K-12 public schools, 30% to higher education institutions and 20% to smoking cessation programs.

Opposition to Proposition B is being conducted by convenience store owners who worry about the effect of the tax increase and their competition in areas bordering other states. They argue the increased tax will also lead to fewer packs sold in Missouri every year, which would mean the sales and other state and local taxes would decrease.

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