Petition Effort Approved for Missouri Tobacco Tax Increases

American Cancer Society seeks to increase taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri is a step closer to potentially losing its ranking as the state with the lowest cigarette tax in the country, if a new voter-driven petition effort is successful.

Last week, the Missouri secretary of state gave approval to a group led by the American Cancer Society to begin circulating a petition that would put a four-cent per-cigarette tax increase (97 cents per pack) on the ballot, according to the Missouri News Horizon, a non-profit news organization.

Currently, a pack of 20 cigarettes in Missouri has a 17-cent state excise tax, the lowest in the country by 13 cents. This new proposal would bring it tothe 19th lowest.  For other tobacco products, a tax of 34% of the manufacturer's invoice price would be added.

The ballot initiative calls for the taxes to be used for a new state trust fund to finance anti-tobacco education. The same ballot proposal also calls for an increase in the amount that certain tobacco manufacturers must maintain in their escrow accounts to pay legal judgments or settlements.

Before any statutory changes can be brought before Missouri voters in November 2012, signatures must be obtained from 5% of registered voters in six of the state's nine congressional districts by May 2012.

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