The Missouri Hospital Association on Tuesday came out in support of a proposed 80-cent-per-pack increase in the state tobacco tax.
Mary Becker, spokeswoman for the association, said Missouri has the second lowest tax on tobacco at 17 cents and ranks last in public funding for tobacco use prevention education.
The tax would create a trust fund to finance smoking prevention and cessation programs as well as other tobacco-related health care. Becker cited statistics that show 25 percent of high school students in Missouri are smokers. Tobacco-related illnesses kill 28 Missourians daily, she said.
Petitions have been filed to put the tax increase to a statewide vote in November 2006.
The association represents 139 hospitals, and Becker said that includes the hospitals in Columbia. “Each hospital will make their own decision on their level of involvement” in terms of participating in the tobacco-tax campaign, Becker said.