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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Smokers should share financial burden of their habit

Thursday, October 4, 2012 | 1:15 p.m. CDT

The voters of Missouri will decide Tuesday, November 6 whether or not to raise the cigarette tax in our state by 73 cents for a total of 90 cents per pack. The current average cigarette tax for the states that border Missouri is $1.02.

The current Missouri Tobacco Tax is only 17 cents per pack (lowest in the nation) and yet, according to the CDC, the smoking-related health care cost in Missouri is $7.61 per pack. Unfortunately, this means that Missouri taxpayers must pick up the tab for $532 million of annual smoking-related Medicaid bills and that costs every Missouri household $565 every year. It is obvious that smokers do not even come close to paying their fair share.

Fifty percent of the new tobacco tax revenue would go to fund local schools. Twenty percent would be dedicated to tobacco use prevention and tobacco cessation programs. Thirty percent would go to public colleges and universities statewide.

The projected public health benefits of the new cigarette tax includes an 11.8 percent decrease in youth smoking, more than 8,000 births affected by smoking avoided over the next five years and millions of dollars in taxpayers' savings for smoking-related health care costs.

Smoking in Missouri costs all taxpayers; it is time to allow the smokers to carry a portion of the load and free up funds for tobacco prevention, public schools and colleges. Please join me and VOTE YES ON THE TOBACCO TAX (Proposition B) ON NOV. 6.

Ted Groshong is a physician at University of Missouri Health Care and is a Columbia resident.


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Comments

James Krewson October 4, 2012 | 5:34 p.m.

What a silly idea this is. Basically you need people to keep smoking in order to provide this funding for the schools. This cigarette tax really only punishes the working poor and it relies on people to keep smoking in order to provide a constant stream of revenue to the schools. This is an awful idea. Just like the lottery, this is another way to hurt the working poor while at the same time, it relies on people to keep smoking in order for the schools to keep receiving their funding. If smokers quit or die off, then the funding drys up. Bad idea.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams October 4, 2012 | 6:07 p.m.

James: While the money may indeed go to education, our past history shows a virtual equal amount goes out the back door. Can you say "casino money"? Or can you say "MoDOT plans" and "Smoking cessation education"?

I simply do not believe the inference that education will see net gains equivalent to any new revenue. I think this is a lie by omission and a false appeal to emotion. I've stated this a couple of times in this place and, so far, there has been no rebuttal.

Of course, I may not have seen rebuttals if they occurred post-lockout. Maybe someone will submit one here.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield October 5, 2012 | 11:18 a.m.

"It is obvious that smokers do not even come close to paying their fair share."

Neither do the obese.

(Report Comment)
frank christian October 5, 2012 | 4:15 p.m.

Proposition B. The latest angle to be played for extraction of more money from those who pay taxes of any sort, in this State. That such a tax will help education here, is an old angle that has been played time and again.

Those that feel good when some one else (the rich?), must cough up (sorry) their hard earned money for a wasteful government will want to vote yes.

Those interested in reducing smoking related illness, might vote no, then demand an end to gov't subsidies to tobacco growers.

(Report Comment)
marvin saunders October 7, 2012 | 5:17 a.m.

James Krewson is the one person who is on the right track.Most of you people don't even realize what he is saying,its about taxes,taxes,taxes.Lets say you do tax smokers to quit How are you going to get that amount of money back.Of course they will go after something else,maybe something you like.You need smokers We don't need you & we will never stop no matter what you do.We will always be able to get tabacco,lets just say there is away without paying taxes,which there is.

(Report Comment)
Joe Mama October 8, 2012 | 9:21 p.m.
This comment has been removed.

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