The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 22, 2012

Your View: Vote no on Proposition B

By Don Adams
Special to The Globe

NEVADA, Mo. — Again, Missourians are being asked to raise taxes on tobacco. We hear about Missouri’s tax on a carton of cigarettes being $1.70. But it’s never mentioned that Missouri collects another $4 per carton, and has since November of 1998.

Missouri has used that windfall to prop up its general revenue fund, but not as promised, which originally was to pay smokers’ medical expenses and also fund a campaign to prevent teens from smoking.

They say if the new tax is passed, it will raise over $230 million. They also say it will only affect smokers. If you take $230 million from Missouri taxpayers, it will affect all of us — not just the smokers, but every taxpayer.

If the tax is proposed to raise tobacco prices so high that it will force people to quit, so be it. But based on that logic, perhaps we should tax the daylights out of fast food, liquor, doughnuts and anything else we deem bad for our health. Obesity is killing thousands and costing people a lot in health care costs.

The truth of Missouri’s tobacco tax is that it brings millions of dollars into our coffers via sales from our eight bordering states, which have much higher cigarette taxes. In fact, while these out-of-state smokers are buying our cheap tobacco products, they are also buying many other products and producing sales tax revenue for Missouri which, if the tax passes, will be lost forever. If this tax passes, Missourians will be crossing the borders to buy their products from neighboring states, as their prices will be lower, costing even more losses for Missouri.

There are many stores that employ Missourians and sell cigarettes to our neighbors that will lose sales, which will cause the loss of jobs and maybe the closing of stores.

If the tax passes, Missouri will lose $5.70 per carton (that’s the current tax plus the settlement tax that Missouri has collected since 1998).

Currently, a low-priced carton of cigarettes sells for $24 retail. Of this, $10.10 is federal tax, $1.70 is Missouri tax and $4 is the settlement tax Missouri collects. This means that same carton could be sold for $8.20, if not for the taxes. Smokers are being punished enough. Vote no on Proposition B.

Don Adams