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Support grows for increasing cigarette tax

A report says one in four US high schoolers smoke first cigarettes before turning 18.
Sudipto Sarkar
A report says one in four US high schoolers smoke first cigarettes before turning 18.

A proposition on the November ballot that aims to increase the tobacco tax is picking up support. Missouri’s Coordinating Board for Higher Education is the latest to advocate for higher tax rates on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Proposition B represents the third attempt to increase Missouri’s low tax rate on tobacco products, and while previous proposals were turned down by the state’s residents in 2002 and 2006, this year’s version has steadily gained support.

The Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education publically advocated Proposition B by passing a resolution backing the measure last week. Paul Wagner, who is Deputy Commissioner of the Board, says that the measure would not only help higher education but could also improve health care.

“It’s a two-sided view for the board, certainly they support increased funding for higher education, and this is estimated to bring in approximately $84 million for higher education, and in addition there is a particular focus on health care," Wagner says.

Wagner says that 25% of the higher education funding would be used to train future health care workers.
The American Cancer Society, Tobacco-Free Missouri and Senator Claire McCaskill have also voiced support for Proposition B, which was petitioned into ballot consideration by the Show–Me A Brighter Future campaign.

Proposition B calls for a 73 cents per pack increase in Missouri’s taxation on tobacco products. Currently, Missouri’s rate of 17 cents per pack is the lowest rate in the nation.

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