You are viewing the print version of this article. Click here to view the full version.
Columbia Missourian

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

By Ted Groshong
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.