|The Missouri State Board of Education voiced its approval Tuesday, June 19, 2012, for the Healthy Missouri Initiative Petition measure aimed at raising new funds for education in the state, according to a release from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The measure, also known as the Missouri Tobacco Tax Initiative, may appear on the November 2012 ballot and calls for an additional 73-cent tax on each package of cigarettes and an increase in tax for other tobacco products.
"These funds would help avoid school district staff reductions due to state budget cuts and would support the growing needs of increasing classroom sizes," said Board President Peter Herschend.
DESE strives to ensure that all children have access to high-quality public education. Through the State Board’s Top 10 by 20 initiative, the Board and Department aim for student achievement in Missouri to rank among the top 10 states by the year 2020.
"In addition to the positive impact these dollars would have on public education, the tax would also make tobacco less affordable and less accessible for young people, and hopefully decrease the likelihood of them starting to use tobacco products," Herschend added.
Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation at 17-cents a pack. The increase would raise the tobacco tax to 90-cents a pack and would generate an additional $283 million annually. Half of the funds would be used for public K-12 education, 30 percent would go toward higher education and the remaining 20 percent would support smoking cessation education programs.
The Healthy Missouri Initiative Petition was organized by Show-Me A Brighter Future, a coalition of Missouri organizations and individuals, led by the American Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society Action Network and other educational and health organizations.
For a previous JOPLIN INDEPENDENT article, "Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette" go here.