Skip to comments.Missouri voters to decide on tobacco tax increase in November
Posted on 10/02/2012 6:08:46 PM PDT by Drango
Missouri voters to decide on tobacco tax increase in November
The tax on a pack of cigarettes in Missouri is the lowest in the nation, but that may change if a ballot initiative is approved by voters in November.
The initiative, titled Proposition B, seeks to raise the tax on cigarettes sold in Missouri from its current level of 17 cents per pack to 90 cents. It also seeks a new tax for roll-your-own tobacco to be set at 25 percent of the manufacturer's invoice price and a rate of 15 percent for cigars and other tobacco products.
Supporters of the measure cite Missouri as having the 11th-highest smoking rate in the country coupled with the lowest tax burden on cigarettes. To them, it's time for the state to get back some of the revenue that has been lost due to smokers' health care needs over the years.
"The annual health care costs in Missouri that are the direct result of smoking comes to nearly $2.13 billion," said Misty Snodgrass, spokeswoman for the Jefferson City-based Show-Me A Brighter Future campaign and a director of the American Cancer Society Action Network. "And when it comes to annual Medicaid costs, funded by the taxpayers, the number is about $532 million. We're all paying a tax because of smoking."
Snodgrass is confident that the proposition will be approved by voters even though previous attempts to increase Missouri's cigarette tax failed in 2002 and 2006.
"When the similar propositions were put toward voters," Snodgrass said, "they included language that would have put the revenue toward Medicare. But Proposition B will appeal more to voters because the extra tax revenue will go to education."
According to state budget office, an average of $92 million has been collected annually in Missouri over the last five years with the tax set at 17 cents per pack. The new tax is expected to generate between $280 million to $435 million annually with most of the revenue designated for education. Fifty percent of the money would go to public schools, 30 percent to higher education and 20 percent to smoking prevention and cessation programs.
Snodgrass said that the whole initiative is quite simple.
"We want to save lives and keep people from smoking," she said. "And in this day and age where budgets are being slashed and tax revenue is lower than expected, smokers need to start pulling their weight."
Kathy Swan, member of Missouri's Coordinating Board for Higher Education and a Republican who will represent Cape Girardeau in the Missouri House next year, agreed with Snodgrass' assessment.
"In challenging economic times and with the cuts in higher education, we welcome efforts to increase funding," Swan said. "The measure could mean an additional $84 million for higher education alone, and that doesn't mean only four-year colleges. It will also include community colleges and vo-tech schools, and a new source of revenue means all entities will prosper."
A public-opinion poll issued by Public Policy Polling in late August shows Proposition B leading among voters at 47 percent to 38 percent opposed, with 14 percent undecided. The measure also seems to be a political hot potato between the candidates for governor with incumbent Democrat Jay Nixon and his challenger Republican David Spence both opposing the measure. Local legislator Wayne Wallingford, a Republican who currently represents Cape Girardeau in the state House and will represent the area in the redrawn 27th Senate District next session, is also opposed to Proposition B.
"Typically, low taxes are good," Wallingford said. "Higher taxes aren't anything to brag about. I don't smoke, and I fully understand that this measure is aimed toward those who choose to do so. But I'm not for increasing taxes at this time. I don't feel that we should try to balance our educational budget on the backs of smokers, who make up only one segment of our society."
Wallingford added that to him, the measure looks like a double-edged sword and should be broadened.
"We need to remember that if the price of a pack of cigarettes goes up, and as a result people stop buying them or quit the habit altogether, then the money that is projected to be there annually will, in fact, decrease. What will we do when that happens? That's why the entire tax base should be contributing to this and not just smokers."
Even with the hot-button issues of tobacco and taxes coming before voters, some are noncommittal at this stage. Dr. Mike Cowan, principal of Cape Central High School, said he has a "wait-and-see" attitude toward the proposition and has heard promises made about education finding before.
"I'm somewhat skeptical," Cowan said. "Moneys to education have already been lacking from the lottery and casinos, so at this point I'm curious about how much money this tax will eventually generate. Tobacco is a major issue and we do have a low tax, and as an educator I am certainly opposed to kids taking up smoking. But I'll wait until the legislature gives us a dollar-amount on what will be coming our way before I decide if the measure is a good or bad thing. I'll have to see it to believe it."
Can't have that, now can we.
Its kinda funny because this is pretty much what Claire McCaskil said about raising taxes on tobacco. LOL
They’re counting on fools who’ll vote to raise someone elses’ taxes.
That will be a “no.”
This is a stupid proposition. First of all, smokers will do almost anything to keep smoking, so they will more than likely just adjust their spending. With gasoline and food already at higher prices, maybe they’ll just buy less milk for the kids, skip taking the kids to the dentist,stop buying vitamins for the kids etc. etc.
Secondly, only 20% will go to prevent smoking or cessation programs. The 80% that is supposed to go to schools is to keep classroom size small in elementary school. Full funding for schools could have passed if politicians hadn’t tried to add a bunch of pork spending to it.
Third, Missouri has a long history advertising taxes to be earmarked for education. What then happens is they cut the amount of general funding for education, so that Education funding doesn’t increase at all. Kinda like a bait and switch.
Fourth, if the sin taxes get steep enough, a black market develops and gangs take over as the source rather than a store. This disproportionately impacts poor minority neighborhoods.
I don’t smoke, but I am not about to vote for this tax or anyother. Government needs to downsize-period.
Low volume ping list
FReepmail me to be on, or off, this list.
What say ye, Missouri FReepers?
Liberalism really is a mental disorder. They don’t want smokers to quit smoking - the taxes fill their coffers. Yet they want to raise them so high that people are giving up their addiction which results in less money in the grubby little hands.
See my post #8.
#s 2, 3, and 4 are spot on.
#1 is painting with a wide brush. You seem to be saying that all smokers are bad parents and would sacrifice items that their children need just to buy cigarettes. I don't know that I would agree with that.
Correct me if I'm wrong.
Are you are projecting about how you handle your budget shortfalls?
However, the poor face more challenges in adjusting their spending, because they often don't have discretionary income anyway. If they are a smoker, and intend to keep smoking, what items will they cut? TV, Booze, and smokes, make life bearable for many-so probably not those items.
Parents might be able to cut something that only impacts the parent, but for many, the parents are already doing with out lots of stuff that may be more needed than smokes.
Of course,some parents will sacrifice things that are needed by their children, to feed their addiction be it cigarettes, booze, cocaine etc. They may even feel extraordinary guilt about it, but yet keep on doing it.
I have seen a lot of this in my lifetime. My parents ran a bar and grill. Lots of guys drinking, smoking, and playing the Juke box in stead of being home with their families. Some women too.
I live in a county that has people who were 3rd generation welfare, back when Clinton/Newt reformed the program. Many have found some other way to exist off taxpayer programs, as well as the occasional cash only transaction.
So yeh, I know some people who run a little short of grocery money at the end of the month, but still have their smokes and booze. Some of them have children and some do not. This is especially true in pockets of poverty. I have no experience in urban ghettos, but I imagine that some of those parents will choose their smokes over almost anything too.
I don't have strong feelings in favor of a higher tobacco tax and would not have promoted a tax increase, but now that it's on the ballot we need to vote “yes” or “no.” If someone wants to vote “no” to send a message of “our taxes are already too high,” that's okay with me.
However, I think a case could be made for this specific tax increase even if nearly all other taxes can and should be opposed.
As conservatives, we understand that taxes hurt businesses, and we want to have taxes at the lowest possible level that will avoid harming businesses while still providing the legitimate services that government should be providing (i.e., providing for the common defense and the justice system). Normally I'd oppose tax increases, but as far as I know tobacco is not grown in Missouri. Can someone explain to me the argument for helping the tobacco industry by having a lower tobacco tax in Missouri than in states which actually grow tobacco?
I might have a different opinion if I were in a state that grows tobacco and I wanted to help local business, but in this case the low tax means helping out-of-state businesses. I don't see a reason for that.
We also need to recognize that this specific business creates significant health problems for individuals and for the public. I would be happier with a tax designed specifically to pay for costs that smokers impose on the health system, but I understand the politics of the issue and why most of the tax money is designated for education.
Bottom line: I'll probably vote yes, but I have no problem with people who vote against a tax increase.
Nope. I do not currently have budget shortfalls. All my children are grown. Sometimes I give money to my children to help them out of a jam, and I often take a bag of groceries over to them when I know they are having some financial trouble.
When I was young and very poor, we made arrangements with the grocery store, the pharmacy etc. for anything our children needed, if there was some unexpected expense that meant we were short.
In those days they were happy to extend a little credit till payday. And I sure as heck didn’t waste any money on things like booze, smokes, soda pop, potato chips, or even a 10 cent cone at the Dairy Queen.
See post 14 for a little better explanation. I was thinking of some specific people I have known over the years when I typed point 1 of the post, and did not make it clear that I was not talking about everyone.
There are a lot of businesses on the eastern side of Missouri that are selling a lot of cigarettes to Illinois citizens.
See my posts 8 and 14 for reasons why I don’t think it is a good idea.
It doesn’t impact me, cause I don’t smoke, but I will be voting no.
At best they reach a point of lesser returns, or even no returns.
As far as health concerns, I have studied the health question of smoking tobacco extensively. I can tell you that, at most, for overall health, smoking ups your chance of ANY health issues by approximately 30%. It ups your risk of a health issue that could be life threatening by approximately 10%. Note, not a health issue that WILL kill you, but one that MIGHT.
In addition, smokers pay more than enough in taxes to pay for any health costs they may incur. This includes shorter life span causing smokers, in general, to not get as much during their later years.
Now, WHY is this tax being promulgated? Not to pay for education, or health issues. Read the article. It is no more than social engineering. Someone doesn't want smokers to smoke. That's it, that's all, the end.
First they came for the smokers, then the soda drinkers of New York, and the slippery slope gets a coat of grease.
Does it really matter what the additional legal robbery will go to?
As what happened with tobacco, when the next round of what next pops up, as long as most believe that everyone ELSE will be paying the increased taxes they will easily pass.
Sitting duck targets :
Beer and ale.
Cell phone/texting services.
Fat Fast food.
First they came for the smokers, but I did nothing, because I was not a smoker...
I had forgotten about this being up for vote.
I don’t smoke but I will be voting NO.
So far I know I am voting:
No on Prop B - Cig Tax
Akin -yep a woman and voting for him
local Repubs - No Dems at all this time
There are also a lot of businesses on the western side of Missouri that are selling a lot of cigarettes to Kansas citizens. Raise the tax to 90 cents and I suspect they will start buying them in Kansas.
Seems like another Pelosi “it’s for the children” argument.
Yeh, I read the letter that the American Cancer Society Lady was sending around. All sorts of unproven assertions that it was the most effective way to make people quit, and teenagers from picking up the habit with out question.
I am running for state rep who WILL NOT RAISE TAXES PERIOD!
The cause is that we will raise revenue for the Kids, well BULL.
Those who it is supposed to help, the lowest incomes will be hurt by them smoking, because we all know that the low income and lower class folks smoke. Well for the record I SMOKE, and I also vote. When does it end, this constant attack by those who oppose something and try to find a way to make it more expensive. If this passes maybe I will attempt to tax, fast food, sex, cars, marriages (the leading cause of divorces), etc. After all it is to protect the kids. Now I hope you were all smart enough to realize I was being sarcastic, however if not vote for my opponent on Nov. 7th.
Which state rep district? If you get elected, say “hi” to Rep. David Day from our county, who is term-limited out this year but will be continuing in Jefferson City to work on the staff of State Sen. Dan Brown.
Nice to see Freepers actually running for office rather than just talking about politics.
1) I sympathize with the concerns of Freepers and others about not using the tax code for social engineering. In an ideal world I would agree. In our current situation, we have little alternative. Either we'll be using the tax code to promote conservative social values (i.e., giving discounts to traditional families for marriage) or the liberals will do the same for their agendas. Options like the flat tax would change things, but for now they're not on the table.
2) I know the owner of Discount Smoke Shop. He has a home in a rural part of our county. I'm sympathetic to the arguments that current Missouri tax policy helps businesses that sell cigarettes near Missouri's borders. That means less to me than it would if tobacco were a major industry in our state, but it is a factor. If I owned a convenience store in St. Louis or Kansas City or elsewhere near Missouri's borders I would have a strong economic motive to vote against this tax.
3) Constitutionally, we need to recognize that taxing and licensing alcohol and tobacco have a long history dating back to colonial days. This isn't new. It's a legitimate tax, but just because something is constitutional doesn't mean it's good policy. I don't think anyone is seriously advocating using the constitutional provision to issue letters of marque authorizing privateers, for example.
Bottom line — I can see arguments for or against this tax. I don't think it's crystal clear either way.
In the current economic environment I am not in favor of raising taxes on anyone. Government needs to downsize, just like any company or individual has to.
Thousands if not millions of conservatives routinely march into voting booths and freely vote to increase taxes on cigarettes.
There is a select crowd here that would have you believe it’s only liberals. They ignore the fact that time and time again, election after election, conservatives have voted for taxes on cigarettes. In every state? Not always, sometimes the measure fails. More often than not, they pass.
And, basically, there was a revolution fought because of unfair taxation. Keep that in mind.
While everyone may not have an outrageously high sin tax raised on their favorite product, realize that if you don't fight it on the products you don't like it WILL be too late when they raise it on the products you do like.
This aside from the fact that social engineering is, or should be, fought by consrvatives, who are supposed to be about freedom.
Everything this tax promises to do is exactly what the state promised the tobacco settlement millions was going to do. So why give them more money to work with if the first round didn’t go as promised? If taxing cigarettes stops smoking then taxing burritos should cut obesity.