Prop B amendment explainer

4:02 PM, Oct 30, 2012   |    comments
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St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - We're just one week away from the election and we want to make sure you're ready to go to the poll.

We're focusing on Proposition B, which would increase the cigarette tax and supporters say most of the money raised would go to schools. Supporters say it's good for education; opponents say that's misleading.

Missouri Voters' Guide

At present, Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation at 17-cents per pack. Proposition B would hike the tax by 73-cents, up to 90-cents per pack. That would be a 760 percent increase.

"I'm a smoker," said Kim, a local voter. "My husband hates cigarettes, but then again, it's gonna come outta his pocketbook, too."

Supporters of the measure, such as the American Cancer Society, hope that a higher tax will make people think twice about smoking.

"We want people to stop smoking, to never start smoking and to frankly improve the health of all Missourians," said Stacy Reliford, American Cancer Society spokeswoman.

Fred Teutenberg, owner of Cheapo Depot Cigarettes and Beer, says Prop B is just too much.

"We should really let the consumer, the individual person, decide what they want to consume and how," he said.

Supporters explain that Prop B would create the health and education trust fund for Missouri schools and pay for tobacco cessation programs.

Missouri Right to Life opposes the measure because they believe supporters are trying to pull a fast one.

"It establishes a new fund and a new stream of funding and provides inadequate protection to keep that funding from being used for research involving cloning or embryonic stem-cell research," said Pam Fichter, Missouri Right to Life.

"There are actually very specific safeguards in place to make sure that the money will not go to stem cell research or cloning research," Reliford said.

In the parkway school district, it doesn't happen often that the school board takes a position on issues like this but they did this time.

"We have a very high rate of smoking-related illnesses in Missouri and we thought raising the cigarette tax to 90-cents that would discourage our young people from starting this very, very dangerous habit," said Beth Feldman, president of the Parkway School Board.

If it passes, Missouri officials say Prop B would increase state revenue by nearly $140 million.

Missourians have rejected a higher tobacco tax three times in recent years.


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