Monday, June 27, 2011

New petition would raise Missouri cigarette tax

A new petition aimed at raising Missouri’s cigarette tax has been approved for circulation. The measure would need about 90,000 signatures by next May to be on the ballot in 2012. Missouri’s cigarette tax currently stands at seventeen cents a pack, the lowest in the nation.

Public health advocates and long-time supporters of a tax-hike say it would significantly reduce the number of smokers in Missouri, curb health costs, and raise needed money for the state.

But, many are not on board with the new petition. Amy Blouin, director of the Missouri Budget Project, says it’s misleading.

“It brings in very little revenue and it’s designed to take something there’s strong public sentiment for, and skewing it so it benefits big tobacco,” Blouin said.

Blouin says that’s because the petition’s dollar tax increase would only apply to smaller, generic cigarette brands - but not the larger ones like Philip Morris. The petition’s sponsor is not taking calls about the initiative.

Elana Gordon, KCUR


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