For many Missouri health advocates, an increase in the state’s tobacco tax is long overdue. But, according to the California public radio station KCLU, onlookers might be surprised to hear that tobacco companies are spending a fortune this election year to get one or another increase in that tax passed, while health groups are urging a no vote. Groups like Tobacco Free Missouri, the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids have joined fiscal conservatives in opposing Amendment 3. These anti-smoking groups worry that creating such a small tax now might eliminate the chance of future tax that would be big enough to significantly change smokers’ behavior.
Insufficient tobacco tax increase proposals undermine public health
In response to proposed plans that inadequately increase Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation tobacco tax, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, and several other local health groups called on the Missouri legislature to resist the tobacco industry proposals. “Tobacco products in Missouri are too cheap and the health costs are too high. Our state is long overdue for a tobacco tax increase…A meaningful tobacco tax increase – of $1.00 per pack or more – has proven time and again to be an effective way to reduce tobacco use, cut health care costs and generate state revenue.”