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Cigarette tax would shift pay burden to smokers

Cigarette tax would shift pay burden to smokers

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Can the cigarette tax increase that will be on the November ballot be back-ended like the casino tax money was? Not this time! Amendment 3 was written specifically so this could not happen.

The Amendment is written so that the money will be audited yearly to make sure organizations have not had their funds reduced in existing (similar) programs. Furthermore, because this is an Amendment and not a normal tax increase it takes the money out of the hands of our elected officials. If they try to move it around, either directly or indirectly, they will be violating the Missouri Constitution. It allows the voters to decide where to spend the money. The Amendment can be read at: www.sos.mo.gov/elections/2006petitions/ppTobaccoTax_v2.asp.

Amendment 3 tax revenue would be used this way:

$102 million on medical care for those below the poverty level;

$61 million on tobacco prevention, education and cessation programs, including public education on the health effects of secondhand smoke;

$44 million on trauma centers and emergency rooms that serve Medicaid patients;

$38 million on public health centers;

$4 million on emergency ambulance providers.

All Missouri taxpayers currently pay about $3.50 per pack of cigarettes to cover the burden that pack of cigarettes puts on our Medicaid system (2004 CDC study). Increasing taxes from 17 cents to 97 cents per pack, which is the national average, shifts more of the responsibility to those that are causing the burden.

Missouri taxpayers have had enough of high taxes. Every year we each pay about $770 in additional state taxes to cover the burden that smoking has on our health care system. It's time those that are creating the burden share more of the cost.

Rick Hyer

Troy

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