Members of the Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition support Proposition B, the November ballot initiative seeking a tobacco tax increase. We believe voters will benefit from additional information about this initiative.
Propostion B will raise the tax on ONE product: tobacco. Missouri currently has the lowest cigarette tax in the country at 17 cents per pack. If Prop B passes, the cigarette tax will increase by 73 cents, making the tax 90 cents. This is well below the national average of $1.46.
Missouri ranks 39th of the 50 states in life expectancy, and has the 11th highest smoking rate, with 21 percent of adults smoking tobacco.
According to the 2012 Missouri Student Survey, 14 percent of middle and high school students have tried tobacco and the average age of first use is 12 years old.
Tobacco is considered a primary "gateway drug," as are alcohol and marijuana. Most people who become addicted to other drugs, such as prescription medication and heroin, report their substance use began at an early age with tobacco, alcohol and/or marijuana.
Supporting this addictive behavior, and the extremely high health care and lost productivity costs associated with it, is not acceptable to us. An increase in the ridiculously low tobacco tax likely will reduce tobacco use rates, and will generate approximately $283 million in annual revenue at a time when our state desperately needs these funds.
Revenue from the tobacco tax would be split three ways, with an emphasis on providing new funding for Missouri schools:
- 50 percent to Missouri elementary and secondary schools
- 30 percent to Missouri colleges and universities
- 20 percent to cessation programs for smokers who want to quit and prevention programming for youth
Executive Committee, Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition
500 N. Central Ave., Eureka