The Pros and Cons Of Proposition A - The Tobacco Tax

Serving This Community For 139 Years, Online Since 2001
 Front Page
 Community Links
Community Calendar
Entire Newspaper Online
Would you use a digital subscription, which would place a .pdf copy of every page of the newspaper on line?

Yes, but only if it was free with my subscription.
Yes, even if it meant a slight increase in the cost of my subscription.
Yes, I don't subscribe to the paper, but would subscribe to this online version.

October 31, 2002

The Pros and Cons Of Proposition A - The Tobacco Tax

Nationally Renowned Economist Finds Proposition A Would Keep 49,300 Missouri Youth From Smoking

Study says long-term effects will mean fewer premature deaths

ST. LOUIS, October 28, 2002 - A group of children's advocates - representing education, faith-based, and health organizations - today released findings by a nationally known economist showing that passage of Proposition A, the Healthy Missouri Initiative, would prevent 49,300 Missouri children alive today from smoking. In turn, this would result in 15,800 fewer premature deaths in this age group.

The study was conducted by Frank Chaloupka, Ph.D., director of the Health Policy Center and Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois Chicago. Dr. Chaloupka is one of the nation's foremost economic experts on tobacco use. His independent findings quantify some of the benefits that will come from passage of Proposition A.

Proposition A would raise Missouri's excise tax on cigarettes by 55 cents a pack and 20 percent on other tobacco products to fund five specific health-related initiatives, including increasing access to quality health care; making prescription drugs more affordable for seniors; preventing and reducing smoking, especially among children; supporting cutting-edge medical research; and expanding early-childhood education programs.

"What more will it take to motivate Missouri voters? Our children's future is on the line and Dr. Chaloupka's study makes it clear ... for their future, support Proposition A," said Beth Griffin, Executive Director of Citizens for Missouri's Children. "These findings should be sobering for all of us. It reinforces the fact that this proposal is about our kids. It is about their health. It is about their lives. On behalf of the kids in this state, Citizens for Missouri's Children asks that if you vote for Proposition A for no other reason, then do it for these 50,000 Missouri kids. It is up to you."

The findings by Dr. Chaloupka were based in part on the results of a long-term study of adolescents' smoking behavior over time. Dr. Chaloupka's analysis also found that the tax increase would result in 36,900 fewer adult smokers, preventing 8,100 premature smoking attributable deaths in this group.

"If you're still undecided on how to vote on November 5, look around you. Look at the kids you know and love," said Reverend B.T. Rice, representing the Black Leadership Roundtable and the St. Louis Clergy Coalition. "They may be among the 50,000 youth of today who won't smoke because of Proposition A. They may be among the almost 16,000 who won't die prematurely because of Proposition A. They are among the kids from across the state who will benefit if we pass Proposition A. This is about our kids. And, Proposition A is worth it."

According to statistics released by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, each year, 17,000 Missouri youth are becoming daily smokers. The work of Dr. Chaloupka proves that increasing the excise tax on tobacco products is the most effective way to keep our children off tobacco. Missouri's excise tax on tobacco is one of the lowest in the nation, with only seven states having lower taxes. Even with the increase authorized under Proposition A, Missouri's tax will still be ranked toward the middle of states across the nation.

"The science is clear," said Dr. Chaloupka. "Raising the excise tax on cigarettes will decrease the number of kids who will start smoking. This group is more price sensitive than any other age group. And, given that 90 percent of smokers start before they are 18, an excise tax increase is one of the most effective measures in keeping young people from taking up smoking in the first place."

Dr. Chaloupka's research focuses on the economic analysis of substance use and abuse, and emphasizes the role of prices and substance control policies in affecting the demands for tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs, as well as outcomes related to substance use and abuse. In addition to his faculty positions with the University of Illinois Chicago, Dr. Chaloupka is Director of the International Tobacco Evidence Network and a Research Associate in the Health Economics Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). NBER is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. NBER's research is conducted by more than 600 university professors around the United States, who are the leading scholars in their fields.

Proposition A Adds Up To Bad Deal For Missourians

By Missouri State Sen. Larry Rohrbach and Missouri State Rep. Maurice Lawson

Tax increase initiatives can be complex. Both sides of the issue will argue strongly in favor of their view. But when you add a third party perspective, credibility begins to emerge and that is the case with Proposition A -- the proposed 55-cent cigarette tax increase.

Recently, two independent studies came to the same conclusion: Proposition A won't generate as much revenue as indicated on the November 5


The basis for this proposition just doesn't add up. The Missouri Office of Administration -- which helps prepare our State's

budget -- recently concluded that new tax revenue that would be generated by Proposition A would reach $312 million in the first full year. The official ballot will tell voters that Prop A will bring in $343 million. A difference of only about $31 million of your money.

More glaring is the recent study completed by University of Missouri Economist Ed Robb who said in the Jefferson City News Tribune that Prop A will only raise $291 million. Robb, director of the university's Economic Policy and Analysis Research Center, says it's a matter of simple economics. As prices go up, demand goes down. It's a relatively simple concept that sponsors of the Missouri's bill fail to realize.

Other states have tried to raise taxes on tobacco and a decline in revenue has followed. The same will happen in Missouri, Robb contends.

Missourians must be cautious of any tax to fund new programs that will be drawn from a declining revenue source. When the estimated revenue from

Proposition A doesn't add up to $343 million, where's the money for the newly created programs going to come from to make up the difference?

Existing programs? More new taxes? And why make only one out of every four Missourians pay a tax that will create programs and services for everyone?

First tobacco, then maybe fast food next. Where does it stop?

The truth is always somewhere in the middle and in the case of Proposition A, two independent studies have proven it's a bad tax, a bad deal for Missourians.

We urge everyone to vote against this bad tax on November 5. - Larry Rohrbach, State Senator, R-Dist. 6-California (573)751-2780; Maurice Lawson, State Rep. D-Dist. 29-St. Joseph


Prop A Will Cost Missouri Schools Over $27 Million A Year

Independent Analysis Shows K-12 Will Lose Funding If Passed

Jefferson City -- An independent economic analysis of Prop A by Dr. Ed Robb, Director of the University of Missouri's Economic & Policy Analysis Research Center, shows that Prop A will decrease K through 12 public school funding by more than $27 million per year.

Dr. Robb further estimates that a loss of $27 million per year could jeopardize approximately 700 teaching positions.

"We've always known that Prop A's outrageous 324% tax increase will hurt Missouri's economy and cost Missouri jobs but this latest finding shows

it's more extensive than we thought," said Ronald J. Leone, Executive Vice President of the Missouri Petroleum and Convenience Store Association. "It won't just be small businesses taking the economic hit -- it's our public schools as well."

Leone continues, "Public school teachers should be very concerned about Prop A. Dr. Robb's conclusion that it will decrease public school funding

by more than $27 million per year should cause all public school teachers, as well as the National Education Association (NEA) and the Missouri State Teachers' Association (MSTA), to vote against Prop A on November 5th."

Passage of Prop A will mean that the State Legislature and local municipalities will be faced with finding a way to make up for a $27 million deficit in public school funding. "A cut of this magnitude will have to be addressed by either another tax increase or a shifting of state

budget priorities," said Leone.

Dr. Robb participates in the yearly State budget process by providing revenue projections to the Missouri Legislature. Unlike the accounting experts hired by the Prop A proponents, Dr. Robb is not a paid expert or

consultant for MPCA. Dr. Robb can be reached at 573.882.4805.

Prop A - How Many Teen Smokers Will Quit?

If Missouri raises cigarette taxes by 55 cents per pack, will that be inducement enough for our kids to quit, or not start, the habit?

According to other states and cities that have raised cigarette taxes, the answer is yes. When California raised tobacco taxes by 50 cents in 1999, youth consumption dropped by 18.9%. When New York raised its

taxes by 55 cents in 2000, youth consumption dropped by 24.5%. Similar statistics have been gathered from all around the country.

The largest group of people to quit smoking by increasing cigarette taxes is our kids (average age kids start smoking in Missouri is 11), followed by

poor people and pregnant women.

If Proposition A passes, it is expected that 37,500 fewer of our kids (under age 18) in Missouri will smoke each year. That means that 12,000 of our kids will be saved from an early smoking death (includes 1,100 smoke free kids that will die from breathing second hand smoke).

If we can't vote for this tax increase for any other reason, let's at least do it for our kids.

Rick Hyer, member of Missouri Partnership on Smoking or Health. 252 S. Moore School Rd. Troy, Mo. 63379 Daytime phone: 314-234-4466 (6:30-3PM)

Three Leading Health Organizations Join Healthy Missouri Initiative

Say Proposition A "Saves Lives and Makes Missouri a Healthier Place;"

ST. LOUIS - Three of Missouri's leading health organizations have joined together in support of Proposition A, also known as the Healthy Missouri Initiative, and committed themselves to countering a misinformation campaign launched by opponents of the measure. The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association pledged to work with their hundreds of thousands of combined Missouri volunteers and supporters to spread the facts about Proposition A.

"The fact is that Proposition A is about life or death. Each year, more than 10,000 Missourians die from tobacco-related illnesses. That's more than 28 deaths per day. More than one death each and every hour," said Lori Pickens, CEO of the American Lung Association of Eastern Missouri and Chair of the Missouri Partnership on Smoking or Health. "Proposition A is our best opportunity to address this shocking trend. We can't just stand by and allow Missouri voters to be told otherwise. From now until Election Day we're going to work together, and with the broader coalition, to spread the facts about how Proposition A will make Missouri a healthier place for our children, our families, and our seniors."

As part of their effort to get out the facts about Proposition A, the organizations released a "Missouri Tobacco and Smoking: The Health and Economic Fact Sheet" (attached), which details the tremendous burden tobacco use is placing on each and every Missouri citizen, every year.

"We know that lung cancer is the third leading cause of death in this country. At the same time, it is one of our most preventable diseases because 90 percent of those cases are attributed to tobacco use," Pickens said. "Here in Missouri, where we have some of the highest smoking rates in the nation and no state-level investment in reducing these trends, we are - literally - putting our future on the line. It is time to tell those who are participating in the opposition's misinformation campaign that we won't stand for it. How can we allow this mischaracterization and distortion of facts about something as important as the health and vitality of the people of Missouri - something as important as Proposition A?"

"Tobacco is a killer," said Mark Goldberg, M.D., Board Member for the American Heart Association. "Smoking causes 3,916 Missouri deaths every year from heart and blood vessel disease. One of our highest priorities as an organization is to reduce that staggeringly high number. Here in Missouri, we've never invested what we should to reduce the incidents of tobacco use or prevent our kids from taking up the habit. Proposition A offers us the first opportunity to do something real to combat the human and economic losses associated with tobacco use."

"Aside from the economic costs of smoking, of course, there are the very real and very grave costs of life. We need to be doing everything we possibly can to keep our children from taking up the deadly tobacco habit," said Lynne Schlosser, Director of Government Relations for the American Cancer Society. "If we could immunize our children against smoking, we would do it. In our opinion, Proposition A is the next best thing."

Proposition A, the Healthy Missouri Initiative, is a proposal to raise the excise tax on a pack of cigarettes by 55 cents, and the tax on other tobacco products by 20 percent, to fund specific health-related efforts: increasing access to quality and affordable healthcare, particularly for our most vulnerable citizens; helping to make prescription drugs more affordable for our seniors; preventing and reducing smoking, particularly among our children; supporting research efforts that will help find treatments and cures for our deadliest diseases; and expanding access to early child care and education, particularly in areas where we need it most. Proposition A will appear statewide on the November 5 ballot.

Copyright © 2001
Memphis Democrat
121 South Main Street
Memphis MO 63555
Phone: 660-465-7016 -- Email: