Missouri higher education board backs tobacco tax increase

Friday, September 7, 2012 | 7:07 a.m. CDT; updated 11:50 a.m. CDT, Friday, September 7, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri's Coordinating Board for Higher Education has endorsed a ballot initiative asking voters to raise tobacco taxes.

The November ballot item would raise Missouri's cigarette tax to 90 cents a pack. The current 17-cent tax is the lowest nationally. The initiative also would raise taxes on other tobacco products.

The proposal is projected to generate between $283 million and $423 million annually. Fifty percent of the money would go to public schools, 30 percent to higher education and 20 percent to efforts intended to prevent people from using tobacco or help them quit.

The state coordinating board said the measure could generate at least $84 million annually for higher education. It said the new revenues could make college more affordable and improve economic development efforts.

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