Third time is not the charm for those trying to increase Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax.
Proposition B, which would have raised the state’s cigarette tax from 17 cents a pack to 90 cents, failed. And like past attempts, it was close. The measure lost by less than two percentage points.
Pre-election surveys had the tax prevailing. Backers of the effort, including the American Cancer Society, outspent opponents. But Ron Leone, with a convenience store trade group that opposed the measure, says Missourians knew better than to give way to an economically harmful tax hike.
“We’re thrilled and grateful but not surprised by the outcome,” says Leone. “I look at this for the third time in a decade: Common sense Missouri voters saw through the rhetoric.”
Efforts to raise the state’s tobacco tax failed in 2002 and 2006. Supporters have said that having such a low tax has contributed to the state’s high smoking rates, tobacco related diseases and health costs. They also say opponents, like Leone’s group, confused the issue in the final days before the election, putting out ads that didn’t mention a cigarette tax, instead saying the measure supported Obamacare.
Misty Snodgrass, with the American Cancer Society, stated in a news release:
"Poor health care outcomes and high youth smoking rates are the price we all are paying for tobacco companies’ dishonest campaigning...our coalition will continue to support health and education in Missouri and are hopeful that those elected to represent Missourians will find a path forward to fully funding our schools, holding tobacco companies accountable for the harms of their products, decreasing smoking rates among children and increasing efforts to assist those who want to quit. Proposition B would have done all these things, but now it will be up to our state legislature to find an alternative way to meet these unmet needs in Missouri.”
This story is part of a reporting partnership that includes KCUR , NPR and Kaiser Health News.
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