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Missouri Tobacco Tax

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November, 2012


Once again, members of Women's Voices went on record as being supportive of an effort to increase the tax on cigarettes and tobacco-related products in the Nov. 2012 election. And once again, the effort, on the ballot as Proposition B, was defeated. It was the third attempt in 11 years to increase state taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. Missouri's cigarette tax of 17 cents per pack remains the lowest in the country.

Why Support a Tobacco Tax Increase in Missouri?
Each year thousands of Missourians are diagnosed with tobacco-related cancer and some will lose their lives to this devastating disease. This ballot measure will mean increased longevity, improved quality of life, and fewer Missourians who will needlessly suffer and die from tobacco-caused diseases. Evidence clearly shows that raising tobacco tax rates encourages tobacco users to quit or cut down and prevents kids from ever starting to smoke.

Raising the tobacco tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking rates and other tobacco product use, and helps prevent our youth from ever starting. This ballot measure raises the tobacco tax and allocates a portion of the generated revenue to tobacco control and prevention. This will ultimately improve the health of all Missourians.

By increasing taxes on cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products, our state can:
  1. save lives,
  2. reduce health care costs, and
  3. generate much-needed revenue to help fund the state's tobacco control programs, elementary and secondary education, and higher education.
The Problem:
  • Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax of any state in the country at 17 cents and has some of the highest smoking rates, lung cancer rates, and heart disease rates in the country.
  • Tobacco use in the state costs an estimated $565 per household in public expenditures, and claims 9,500 lives per year in Missouri from cancer and other smoking-related diseases.
  • Tobacco use accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of lung cancer deaths.
The Facts
  • Missouri currently has no general revenue funding for tobacco prevention.
  • 8,600 Missouri kids (under 18) become new daily smokers each year
  • Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.
  • Each year, annual health care costs in Missouri directly caused by smoking $2.13 billion and $532 million is spent on the state's Medicaid program.
  • Every household in Missouri pays $565 per year in their state and federal tax burden from smoking-caused government expenditures.
  • $2.51 billion in smoking-caused lost productivity
The Solution
Increasing tobacco excise taxes on cigarettes is one of the most cost-effective strategies to reduce tobacco use among adults and to prevent youth from starting. Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of premature illness and death in the United States and Missouri. In addition to saving lives and reducing current and future health care costs due to smoking, the tobacco measure would help Missouri's workforce infrastructure by enhancing education funding for tomorrow's workers.

The proposed tax increase will raise at least $279 million per year, according to the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids. Revenue from this tax increase would go towards tobacco use prevention and quit assistance programs (20 percent of funds), local publicK-l2 schools (50 percent of funds), and public colleges and universities statewide (30 percent of funds). It is widely known that elementary & secondary education and higher education in this state are facing significant financial challenges and this ballot measure will help alleviate those challenges. Additionally, it would help strengthen these public institutions and make sure that they are financially accessible to as many Missourians as possible.

For more information contact: Misty Snodgrass, Legislative/Government Relations Director, American Cancer Society, misty.snodgrass@cancer.org


October 2006

Missouri voters defeated a proposal to increase taxes on tobacco products on Nov. 7, 2006. The tax, proposed by the Committee for a Healthy Future, would have raised the state tax on cigarettes from 17 cents per pack to 97 cents per pack. Women's Voices was supportive of this tax increase, arguing that it would prevent more children from smoking and would provide much-needed revenue to health care providers who care for Medicaid patients. The text of our original position paper on this issue appears below.

Our Position

We endorse an increase in the state tax on tobacco products as proposed by the Committee for a Healthy Future. The proposed plan, which will appear on the Missouri ballot in November 2006 as Amendment #3, would raise the cigarette tax to 97 cents a pack and increase the tax on other tobacco products by 20%. By making it more difficult to purchase tobacco products and by generating revenue for prevention programs and health care services, this tax would save lives, reduce suffering caused by tobacco-related diseases, and lower the financial burden that tobacco use imposes on all citizens. Our endorsement is based on the following facts:

  • If the plan is approved, $61 million of the tax-generated funds will be earmarked for smoking prevention and cessation programs, especially for young people, the population most likely to start smoking.

  • The remaining $290 million will be dedicated to reducing health care costs associated with tobacco use and providing access to care. Specifically, about 35% will be directed to health care programs and services for Missourians living under 200% of the federal poverty limit; 35% will be used for primary care and specialist physician services for the most needy; 15% will support trauma centers and hospital emergency rooms for services provided to Medicaid beneficiaries and uninsured Missourians; and 13% will provide additional funding for safety net clinics such as public health clinics and community mental health centers.

  • Although this is a regressive tax whereby low-income individuals who use tobacco products will bear a disproportionate financial burden, we believe they will reap the greatest long-term benefits: better health and reduced suffering from chronic smoking-related diseases and improved access to health care services.

  • If the plan is approved, the state constitution will be amended to ensure that politicians cannot divert tobacco tax revenue to other purposes.

  • Missouri’s current 17-cent tax per pack is lower than any of its contiguous states’ and is the second lowest in the nation. The national average is 91 cents per pack.

  • In Missouri, almost a fourth of high school students smoke, and 16,900 youth under age 18 become new daily smokers each year. In the state, 9,700 adults die from smoking-related diseases each year, and smoking causes $2.3 billion in lost productivity annually. (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 2005)

  • Missouri’s annual health care costs directly caused by smoking total $1.96 billion. Each household in the state bears a tax burden of $566 in state and federal taxes from smoking-caused government expenditures. Under the proposed plan, tobacco users would contribute more to paying those costs. (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 2005)