KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of the biggest issues Missourians decided on Tuesday was whether to increase taxes on cigarettes, and late Tuesday night the issue failed among Missouri voters by a slim 51-49 percent margin.
Currently, Missouri has the lowest state tax on cigarettes in the nation. Smokers pay 79 cents in state taxes on cigarettes in Kansas and only 17 cents in Missouri.
Prop B would have added 73 cents in state taxes per pack — for a total of 90 cents. And if you do the math, it’s a 429 percent tax increase, not 760, as opponents claim.
Owners of smoke shops were upset because they’ve been so successful drawing out-of-state smokers to their stores. In fact, some, like one business owner in St. Joseph, threatened to close down shop and move to Kansas, since cigarettes will be cheaper there if Prop B passes.
Supporters of Prop B said the tax would raise about $280 million extra a year. Fifty percent of that money would go toward public schools, 30 percent would go to the state’s public colleges and universities and 20 percent would go toward tobacco prevention programs.
It would also be well-below the national average of $1.49 per pack. And economists say tobacco taxes really do help lower smoking rates and lower tobacco related medical costs.