8/10/2012–Tobacco Free Missouri has announced its unanimous endorsement of the ballot initiative to raise Missouri’s state tobacco tax. The referendum, set to appear on this November’s ballot, will raise the tax by $0.73 per pack to a total of $0.90. Tobacco Free Missouri joins Show Me a Brighter Future, the coalition that has led the initiative, in support of this essential step toward improving the health of Missourians.
“Tobacco Free Missouri is committed to reducing the burden of tobacco in Missouri,” stated Dr. Kevin Everett, Board Chair of Tobacco Free Missouri. “The evidence is clear that increasing the price of tobacco products is an effective method for reducing smoking rates and stopping youth initiation of tobacco use. Missouri’s tax is the lowest in the nation and this ballot initiative is an important step in the right direction.”
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 by increasing education funding for tomorrow’s workers.
The proposed tax increase is estimated to raise at least $283 million per year in Missouri, 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 public K-12 schools (50 percent), and public colleges and universities statewide (30 percent).
Along with raising funds for education, the tax would also help reduce tobacco use. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, increasing the cost of cigarettes by ten percent results in 3.5 to 5 percent fewer cigarettes smoked. That effect is even greater when it comes to preventing youth from picking up the habit with a 6 to 7 percent reduction in youth smoking initiation from a ten percent increase. Youth, who tend to have little disposable income, are particularly sensitive to price increases.
Reduced rates of tobacco use in Missouri will save lives and money. Each year, health problems caused directly by smoking cost the state more than $2 billion. Factoring in federal tax dollars, that amounts to $565 per household for Missouri families.
ABOUT TOBACCO FREE MISSOURI: Tobacco Free Missouri is the statewide tobacco control coalition consisting of concerned citizens and organizations. Since 2007, Tobacco Free Missouri has worked with its partners to reduce tobacco use and eliminate secondhand smoke exposure for all Missourians through education and policy change. For more information, please visit www.tobaccofreemo.org.