Proposed cigarette tax would benefit schools

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Proposition B, which increases the cigarette tax by 700 percent, will provide elementary and secondary schools across the state with additional funding.

According to a press release issued by Cassville R-4 School District Superintendent Richard Asbill, Proposition B will generate around $283 million each year and 50 percent of the funding will benefit Missouri school districts.

"Proposition B will appear on the November ballot and is the result of an initiative petition circulated by the American Cancer Society to reduce smoking and improve healthcare in Missouri," the press release states. "It is important to note that this proposal was not created to generate money for any specific entity."

Proposition B will increase Missouri's cigarette tax from 17 cents per pack to 90 cents per pack. Missouri currently has the lowest cigarette tax in the country.

"The national average is $1.46," states the press release. "Missouri is 11th highest in smoking prevalence in the country. There are 8,600 Missouri kids, under the age of 18, who become daily smokers each year, and almost 20 percent of Missouri high school students smoke. Countless studies have shown that increasing the cigarette tax will indeed reduce smoking, especially among teens."

In addition to providing Missouri school districts with funding, 20 percent of the money generated from the proposed tax would benefit smoking cessation programs to help adult smokers quit and keep kids from starting the habit, and 30 percent of funding would be used to train future caregivers.

"The proposal includes safeguards, including regular public audits that will ensure the new revenue is spent as voters intend," states the press release.

If approved, Proposition B would provide the Cassville School District with $200,000 to $300,000 per year. The funding can be used for teacher recruitment, retention, salaries or professional development, school construction, renovation or leasing, technology enhancements, textbooks or instructional materials, school safety or required state and federal programs.

"Revenues from this fund will hopefully be the highest when it is enacted and then fall from that point as Missourians quit smoking," states the press release. "The auditor's $283 million revenue projection includes a reduction in tobacco use in the state and is a reliable and stable funding number for long-term planning purposes. This proposal is good for the health of this state and the children we serve and it benefits Missouri schools."

The Proposition B proposal includes a statement that the net proceeds from the tobacco tax will constitute new and additional funding for activities, initiatives and programs. The money is not intended to replace existing funding for the same activities, initiatives and programs, as of July 1.

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  • Tobacco tax increase proponents blamed Missouri Right to Life for the defeat of Amendment 3 in 2006. I believe MRL helped defeat an earlier tobacco tax proposal as well.

    MRL worries that tobacco tax initiative proponents may intend to use some of these new tax funds for stem cell research and abortion related education/services. Otherwise proponents would have sat down with MRL and worked out acceptable language.

    Here is MRL's case against the current Tobacco Tax Initiative:

    -- Posted by BillHannegan on Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at 7:57 PM
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