Health and Education Coalition Files Revised Version of Tobacco Proposition

Date: November 17, 2011
Contact: Misty Snodgrass
Phone: 573-268-9046
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Nov. 17, 2011) — A diverse coalition led by the American Cancer Society has withdrawn its original tobacco-related proposition, which was filed on September 20 with the Missouri Secretary of State, and has re-filed a slightly modified and stronger version. This was done after receiving input from a variety of stakeholders in an effort to further refine and strengthen the measure’s health impact and political viability.

The new proposition would ask voters to approve a 73 cent per pack cigarette tax increase, and would up the tax on other tobacco products as well. Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax of all states in the nation (at 17 cents per pack), and very high smoking and other tobacco product use rates. Tobacco use in the state costs an estimated $565 per household in public expenditures, and claims 9,500 lives per year in Missouri from cancer and other smoking-related diseases.

The proposed tax increase will raise at least $283 million per year, according to the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids. Unchanged from the original filing, 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 of funds), and public colleges and universities statewide (30 percent of funds).

As in the original filing, a section of the measure would close a loophole that allows certain small tobacco companies to avoid contributing to a tobacco settlement-related fund that reimburses the state in part for tobacco-related costs. In the version filed today, more detail was added to this section, as well as language to ensure appropriate regulation and taxation of commercial roll-your-own cigarette producing machines that have become more common in Missouri.

Roll–your-own cigarettes are significantly less expensive than other tobacco products, which can make them appealing to both youth and existing smokers faced with higher cigarette taxes. Regulating roll-your-own products will result in lower smoking rates and reduced health-related costs for the state.

Increasing tobacco taxes is a proven way to decrease smoking rates and cigarette consumption, especially among children. Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of premature illness and death in the United States and Missouri. Tobacco use accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of lung cancer deaths.
In addition to saving lives and reducing current and future health care costs due to smoking, the tobacco measure would help Missouri’s workforce infrastructure by enhancing education funding for tomorrow’s workers.

The coalition sponsoring the tobacco measure is comprised of medical and public health professionals, education groups, business leaders and community leaders.

“We are pleased this measure has potential to help school districts deal with the funding problems they face,” says Missouri School Boards’ Association Executive Director Dr. Carter Ward. “This proposition presents the voters of Missouri the opportunity to voice their opinion on this issue.”

“This funding would provide much-needed support for Missouri colleges and universities to train the future caregivers like nurses, doctors, and dentists that Missouri’s aging population will soon need in greater numbers,” said Warren Erdman, long-time Kansas City-area civic and business leader. Erdman also serves as chairman of the University of Missouri Board of Curators.

“Each year thousands of Missourians are diagnosed with tobacco-related cancer and some will lose their lives to this devastating disease,” said Misty Snodgrass, American Cancer Society. “This ballot measure will mean increased longevity, improved quality of life, and fewer Missourians who will needlessly suffer and die from cancer.”

“This is a public health initiative that will impact the lives of Missourians for generations to come,” said Norm Siegel, Chairman of the Board, Health Forward Foundation.

Key Facts:

Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax of any state in the country at 17 cents and has some of the highest smoking rates, lung cancer rates, and heart disease rates in the country.
Each year, the tobacco industry spends $349 million to market their products in Missouri.
Missouri currently has no general revenue funding for tobacco prevention.
8,600 Missouri kids (under 18) become new daily smokers each year
Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.
Each year, annual health care costs in Missouri directly caused by smoking $2.13 billion and $532 million is spent on the state’s Medicaid program.
Every household in Missouri pays $565 per year in their state and federal tax burden from smoking-caused government expenditures.
$2.51 billion in smoking-caused lost productivity