Letter to the Editor

Prop B will take money from the economy

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dear Editor:

Once again Missourians are being asked to raise taxes on tobacco. We hear about Missouri's tax on a carton of cigarettes being $1.70. Never is it mentioned that Missouri collects another $4 per carton and has since November 1998. Missouri has used that windfall to prop up its general revenue fund and not as promised, which was to pay smokers' medical expenses and also to 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 effect 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 so high it will force people to quit, so be it. But based on that logic we should tax the daylights out of fast food, liquor products, donuts and anything else we deem bad for our health. Obesity is killing thousands and costing thousands of dollars in health care costs.

The truth of Missouri's tobacco tax is that it brings millions of dollars into our coffers in sales to people from our 8 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 producing sales tax revenue for Missouri, which, if the tax passes, will be lost forever. Another fact, if this tax passes Missourians will be crossing the borders to buy their products from neighboring states, as their prices will be lower, creating even more losses for Missouri. There are many stores which employ Missourians and sell cigarettes to our neighbors that will lose sales causing the loss of jobs and maybe closing of stores. If the tax passes Missouri will lose $5.70 per carton (the current tax of $1.70 plus the $4 Missouri has collected since 1998) plus the sales tax for all the sales lost to out-of-state purchasers plus all the profits our retailers are reaping. A current low-priced carton of cigarettes sells in Nevada, Mo., for $24 retail. Of this $10.10 is federal tax, $1.70 Missouri tax and the $4 settlement tax Missouri collects. This means that same carton could sell for $8.20 if not for the taxes. The smokers are being punished enough. Vote No on prop B.

Don Adams

Nevada, Mo.