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JEFFERSON CITY -  Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced Wednesday that a petition to increase taxes on tobacco products has met state standards for circulation.

The American Cancer Society of Cole County headed up the petition aimed at increasing taxes on tobacco by 73 cents across the state. The group is allowed to start asking for signatures now.

The petition is funded by the Missouri School Board Association, various higher education representatives, and the Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

Misty Snodgrass, American Cancer Society Government Director of Relations, is one of the creators of the petition.  She told KOMU 8 the petition will go before legislation if the group can obtain more than 100,000 signatures by May of next year.

"We are very confident that we will meet that goal.  People are coming out of the woodwork and supporting it everyday," Snodgrass said.

Missouri currenty has a 17 cent tax on any pack of cigarettes, making it the the lowest in the country. 

Snodgrass said the estimated additional revenue the state government could receive from the proposal is between $283 million and $423 million annually. The money would be distributed between higher education institutions, elementary and high school public institutions, and public health tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

"The main goal in increasing the tax rate is to reduce youth from ever starting to pick up the deadly product," Snodgrass added.

Thomas Moore, a smoker and employee of a Jefferson City tobacco outlet, told KOMU 8 he believes business will remain the same if the tax increase happens. Moore said, "One thing about smokers is that they will always have money for their cigarettes.  I know I'll still buy them."

Robert Hess, a Lawyer in Jefferson City, submitted the petition.