Date: November 7, 2012
Contact: Jennifer Sykes
Missourians pay for having the lowest tobacco tax in the country in so many ways. Missouri has the nation’s 11th highest smoking rate (21 percent of adults and 19.5 percent of high school students) and the nation’s 39th lowest life expectancy. Its citizens are diagnosed with cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease at higher rates than national norms.
Proposition B was our chance to break old habits. Missouri does not invest into smoking cessation and prevention– but Prop B would have changed that by directing 20 percent of the revenue from the tax to these lifesaving programs. And not only would Prop B have raised much-needed money for health and education in Missouri, but it would have saved lives from lethal diseases caused by tobacco.
Missouri isn’t investing all it can to ensure a brighter future for our children. The voters have decided that increasing the nation’s lowest tobacco tax was not the right solution. However, we cannot ignore the facts.
8,600 Missouri kids start smoking each year.
Missouri currently does not fund smoking education, cessation or prevention programs, making it very hard for those who want to quit to find resources to improve their health.
Tobacco use costs each Missouri household $565 annually in public expenditures.
Annually, Missouri spends $2.13 billion on healthcare costs directly related to smoking
Smoking costs Missouri businesses $2.51 billion in lost productivity
While we are disappointed that our efforts to improve the health of Missourians failed, the Health Forward Foundation is resolved to continue to find ways to reduce tobacco use in Missouri. We want to thank all of the individuals and organizations that helped spread the word about the benefits of Prop B, especially our lead organization, the American Cancer Society. We look forward to continuing to work together to find solutions to reduce the harmful effects of tobacco.
Steve Roling, Health Forward President/CEO
Karen Cox, PhD. RN, FAAN, Health Forward Board Chair