Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What is Prop B?

The last week has seen a flurry of anti-Proposition B signs going up.  Billboards now line the highways and it seems like you can't get gas without seeing 3 or 4 of them.  But what is Prop B?  The last time a similar issue was on the ballot voters thought it was an increase in the gas tax.  Wrong!  It is an increase in the cigarette tax.  Here are the sides.

Here's what the Prop B supporters have to say:
  • Increasing the tax will save lives and reduce health care costs.
  • Increasing the tax will generate revenue to fund educationa and tobacco control programs.
  • Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax in the country at 17 cents per pack.
  • Missouri has some of the highest rates of smoking and lung cancer.
  • 9,500 Missourians die each year from cancer and other smoking related diseases.
  • Tobacco use accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths and 87% of lung cancer deaths.
  • 8,600 Missouri kids become new daily smokers each year.
  • Each year, annual health care costs in Missouri directly caused by smoking $2.13 billion and $532 million is spent on the state’s Medicaid program.
  • Every household in Missouri pays $565 per year in their state and federal tax burden from smoking-caused government expenditures.
  • $2.51 billion in smoking-caused lost productivity
  • Increasing tobacco excise taxes on cigarettes is one of the most cost-effective strategies to reduce tobacco use among adults and to prevent youth from starting.
  • Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of premature illness and death in the United States and Missouri.
Here's what the Prop B opposition has to say:
  • 429% tax increase on all cigarettes (increase is 73¢ per pack, from 17¢ to 90¢ per pack).
  • Prop B will decimate cigarette & tobacco sales for every convenience store & retailer inMissouri.
  • Prop B will put every convenience store & retailer at a massive competitive tax disadvantage with Kentucky (60¢ per pack),Tennessee (62¢ per pack),Nebraska (64¢ per pack) &Kansas (79¢ per pack).
  • Prop B will drastically reduce the advantage Missouri retailers have over Oklahoma ($1.03 per pack), Arkansas ($1.15 per pack), Iowa ($1.36 per pack) & Illinois ($1.98 per pack).
  • Never forget that the ultimate goal of the anti-tobacco zealots who support Prop B is to outlaw all tobacco products by initiating, supporting & pursuing outrageous & unfair taxation & regulation!
  • MPCA continues to support a reasonable tax increase on tobacco products that will allow Missouri retailers to maintain their competitive tax advantage over our higher-taxed border-states.
I find two things interesting about the opposition's positions.
  1. Many Missouri retailers are at a disadvantage because most internet sales are not taxed.  Would MPCA support a tax on internet sales?
  2. MPCA claims it would support a reasonable tax increase, yet has opposed every tobacco tax increase that has been on the ballot.  What is the level they would get behind?
I don't smoke and think it is a nasty habit.  We also know it causes some bad health issues.  Not sure how I'll vote, but whatever your feelings are on the issue, vote.  Express your opinion at the ballot box. 

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