Proposed cigarette tax hike has failed twice before

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 | 8:30 p.m. CST; updated 12:27 p.m. CST, Wednesday, January 25, 2012

*The proposed amendments in 2002 and 2006 were added to the ballot through petition initiatives. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated who proposed the amendments.

COLUMBIA —Members of the Missouri General Assembly are pushing to up the state's cigarette tax, which is an effort that has been defeated twice in the past decade. 

Missouri's 17-cent cigarette tax is the lowest in the country, with the national average being $1.46 per pack.

State Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, has proposed a bill to increase the cigarette tax to 89 cents per pack, which could bring in $400 million for education. The tax would also apply to other tobacco products.

Earlier this month, state Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, filed legislation to increase Missouri's cigarette tax to 43 cents per pack.

Attempts to raise Missouri's cigarette tax failed in 2002 and 2006 statewide votes, gaining 49 percent of the vote each time.

In 2002, a petition* proposed a 2.75-cent tax increase per cigarette and a 20 percent increase to other tobacco products. If passed, the measure would have generated an extra $342 million, according to an October 2002 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Similarly, in 2006, another petition initiative* on the ballot proposed adding a 4-cent tax increase to each cigarette and a 20 percent tax increase to other tobacco products. The tax hike would have brought in about $351 million, which would have been earmarked for anti-smoking and health care programs, according to a November 2006 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

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Joe Smyser January 25, 2012 | 2:13 p.m.

Raising the price reduces smoking. This is well established in both scientific and tobacco industry literature:

Cigarette smoking is still the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S., which makes it bad enough.  New research has shown that cigarette butts (360 billion are dropped in the U.S. every year - the number one collected item in city, school, river and ocean cleanups) are highly toxic.  So toxic, they meet the scientific definition of toxic waste:

So if we needed another reason to focus on prevention or cessation, we've got a toxic 360 billion of them.  This doesn't seem to be an issue of personal liberties vs. nanny state mentality.  It seems to be a cut-and-dry look at the data and act accordingly issue.  Whether you're looking at human health, or the health of the environment.

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