10/16/13–A recent decision from a three-judge panel between the tobacco companies and the states means an estimated $70 million loss for Missouri. Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax in the nation, and according to data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, 25 percent of Missouri adults and over 18 percent of high school students smoke.
Recognizing the high costs of treating tobacco-related disease, a critical public health agreement came from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the tobacco companies and states. Under this agreement, Missouri has received more than $130 million each year since 2002. Attorney General Chris Koster appealed to state legislators to pass legislation that would address a loophole in the agreement, but the legislature did not act on these requests. In September, a three-judge panel ruled that Missouri failed to “diligently enforce tobacco laws in 2003” and the state will lose an estimated $70 million.