Proposition B, which failed to pass in the recent 2012 election by a 51 to 49 margin, leaves Missouri as the state with the lowest tobacco tax in the United States. Increased taxes on tobacco products would have benefitted the state of Missouri in tremendous ways.
This tax supported in Proposition B, also known as the “tobacco tax,” would have raised the tax on tobacco from 17 cents to 90 cents per package. The extra revenue would have been put towards education and the funding of schools.
The tax would have raised somewhere between $300 million and $400 million. Half the money would have gone to local school districts, which have been shorted for years, according to many Missouri government officials. Thirty percent of the money would have gone to the state’s colleges and universities, with some of that money specifically dedicated to helping train future health-care workers. The rest of the money would have been spent on tobacco cessation programs, which would contribute to reducing health-care costs for all of us, even as we pick up higher Medicaid bills for treating smokers.
Three times in the past decade, Missourians have said “no” to a tobacco tax increase. Those three proposals had their flaws, and so did this one. But Proposition B was better than its predecessors. Missouri voters were strongly urged to say yes on proposition B.
The low price of tobacco products in Missouri, simply makes access for everyone easier, including young people.
The risk of the intake of tobacco products should be considered in the future when Missouri communities consider another tobacco tax. Smoking can cause lung cancer, but it can also cause many other cancers and illnesses. Smoking directly causes more than 100,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and contributes to many more.
Of these deaths, about 42,800 are from smoking-related cancers, and 30,600 from cardiovascular disease, while another 29,100 die slowly from emphysema and other chronic lung diseases. According to the netdoctor website, Cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemical compounds and at least 400 toxic substances.
Although Missouri has turned down this tax three times, there is hope for the future for this beneficial tax. Supporters say the tax will most likely appear on ballots again in the future. We can hope that, when it does, the citizens of Missouri will realize how an increased tobacco tax can result in benefits for all of us.
By Payton Ehrhardt
Corner Post Staff Writer