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Missouri Votes Down Proposed Cigarette Tax Hike


The Missouri state excise tax on a pack of cigarettes is 17 cents -- the lowest in the country. On November 6, 2012, voters decided not to raise that tax to 90 cents a pack. The proposed cigarette tax hike lost by less than one percent this time around; Missouri voters rejected similar measures in 2006 and 2002 by slightly higher margins. 

The Missouri auditor's office estimated that the state would have received "$283 million to $423 million annually" from the tax.  Had the measure passed, a large portion of that additional revenue would have gone toward education. Proposition B reads that the tax increase would be:

  • "For the purpose of reducing public health care expenses and deaths from tobacco-related diseases, as well as providing additional moneys to be expended and used for tobacco use prevention and quit assistance;
  • For elementary and secondary public school funding…; and
  • For public college and university funding."

Misty Snodgrass of the American Cancer Society, who advocated for the tax, said that "Missourians are tired of paying the high healthcare costs that go along with having the cheapest cigarettes in the country." She underscored that "… we're done being the lowest tobacco tax, we want to have better schools, we want to …save lives, and we want to help kids from ever starting to smoke." (NPR).

Ron Leone, one of Proposition B's fiercest opponents and the head of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, said he would not be against a smaller increase to the cigarette tax, such as "33 or 34 cents" a pack. He argued that the proposed tax "was far too steep and would have cost Missouri its competitive advantage in the cigarette market."

Smokers in the neighboring states of Kansas and Illinois -- where taxes per pack of cigarettes are 79 cents and $1.98, respectively -- had a vested interest in the issue. Many travel to Missouri regularly to stock up on cigarettes.

The national average for cigarette taxes is $1.49 per pack. (NPR).

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Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.