Missouri Tobacco Tax Proposition Backed Up by Bus Tour

Show-Me a Brighter Future Launches Two-Week School Bus Tour

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Supporters of a ballot initiative in Missouri are taking a bus tour throughout the state to get the word out. Proposition B aims to increase cigarette taxes by 73 cents per pack. The proceeds go towards education and prevention programs all over Missouri. A big yellow school bus rolled into Springfield, Mo., on Monday to tout what a "yes" vote on Prop B means.

* KOLR cites Misty Snodgrass of the Prop B Bus Tour. She told a crowd in Springfield , "Fifty percent [of the revenue generated] would go to local public schools, for example three million [dollars] here in Springfield, and 30 percent would go to higher education, for example, such as Missouri State [University] and Ozarks Technical Community College, and then 20 percent would go to tobacco prevention and cessation.

* The group Show-Me A Brighter Future is backing the campaign. The coalition reveals the new tax could bring as much as $283 million to help prevent smoking in Missouri.

* The Prop B Bus Tour will roll through more than 20 Missouri cities from Oct. 1 to Oct. 12. The tour started in Jefferson City before going to Harrisonville, Joplin, Springfield, Houston and then West Plains. At each stop, school and community leaders are scheduled to speak to local voters.

* Previous attempts to increase Missouri's extremely low tobacco tax have failed. In 2002 and 2006, ballot measures were narrowly defeated, according to the Springfield News-Leader. A statewide bus tour can help push for more "yes" votes.

* Proponents of the higher taxes claim 33,000 people might quit smoking and another 40,000 teenagers might not even start the habit to begin with.

* The major opponent of raising the tax is the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. The lobbying group released a statement on an economic study paid for by the association. The release said , according to KTTS, "Proposition B's outrageous and unfair 760 percent tax increase... negatively impacts all taxpayers and not just smokers. … Proposition B will decrease state, county and municipal revenues by at least $67 million."

* The lobbying group claims people who buy tobacco products in stores also buy items such as sodas, snacks, lottery tickets and other convenience items. As such, association believes the negative economic impacts outweigh a higher tobacco tax.

* KTTS noted several signs at convenience stores across Springfield posted messages against Proposition B while the bus tour was in town.

* Currently, Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the United States, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. At 17 cents per pack, Missouri is 13 cents lower than Virginia's 30 cents per pack. If the tax rises to 90 cents per pack, the tax is still lower than half of Missouri's border states. Iowa, Illinois, Oklahoma and Arkansas would still have higher tobacco taxes if the measure passes.

William Browning is a research librarian specializing in U.S. politics.

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