The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 29, 2012

Your View: Tobacco tax would cost state money

By Vic Colson
Special to The Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — When does a tax increase mean a decrease in revenue? It will occur if the “yes” voters win on Proposition B. Because Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax in the nation, thousands of people from every state in the union come here to take advantage of our tobacco prices.

Out-of-state people drive here to buy multiple cartons. If a carton of cigarettes costs $20 in Missouri, and if someone purchases 10 cartons, it would cost $200 in our state. In New York City, the cost would be $778. Or $286 in Oklahoma and $398 in Illinois. One of my customers from Arizona buys 120 cartons once a year. He spends $2,400 here, because in Arizona it would cost $4,800. The cost difference easily pays for his trip to Missouri.

Sales like these happen daily in the Missouri border towns. Tobacco currently means big business to all of us. A University of Missouri economics professor has calculated the revenue in Missouri will actually decrease by $67 million yearly in both sales and excise taxes if the tax is passes. This huge shortfall would cost even the non-smokers.

Since 2001, Missouri has received over $1.8 billion in tobacco funds. Less than 1 percent of that money has been used for prevention programs. Most of the money was used by our state government to fill shortfalls in the state budget, just like the funds raised from casinos and the lottery. If Proposition B is such a good idea, why would both Gov. Nixon and his challenger Dave Spence oppose it? A similar tax increase was rejected in both 2002 and 2006. Reject it again — it’s another political tax grab. Vote “no” on the tobacco tax.

Vic Colson