Columbia Chamber of Commerce endorses Proposition B

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 | 6:05 p.m. CDT; updated 7:45 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 23, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors voted to endorse Proposition B, which calls for higher taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products, on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

The chamber encourages voters to support Proposition B, which would raise Missouri's tax on a pack of name-brand cigarettes from 17 cents per pack to 90 cents per pack. The tax on value brands would rise to $1.47 per pack. It also would raise taxes on other tobacco products.

The higher taxes would generate about $283 million to $423 million per year in additional state revenue, according to a fiscal note attached to the ballot question. The money is intended to provide additional funding for K-12 public schools, higher education and smoking cessation programs.

Missouri now has the lowest tax rate on tobacco products and is one of three states that has not raised tobacco taxes in the past decade, according to a chamber news release. 

"The amendment to Missouri law regarding the increase in tobacco sales tax would positively influence statewide public education from elementary to higher education," Randy Coil, chairman of the chamber board of directors said in the release. "In addition, the University of Missouri College of Medicine could possibly benefit from the allocation of this tax fund for the expansion of their role in the state of Missouri."

If Proposition B passes, Columbia Public Schools could receive an additional $4 million in revenue, the chamber said, and the University of Missouri System would receive about $40 million.

Part of the additional revenue generated would be used to build a $30 million medical education building in Columbia and develop a clinical campus in Springfield through the partnership between MU's School of Medicine, CoxHealth and Mercy Hospital Springfield.

The anticipated annual tobacco tax revenue in Missouri would be allocated as followed: 

  • 50 percent to elementary and secondary public education.
  • 30 percent for public higher education.
  • 20 percent for public health tobacco use prevention and cessation assistance.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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