Missourians Look to Increase Tobacco Tax
From the tobacco tax, 17.4 percent will go to tobacco use prevention methods, 28.5 percent will go to debit cards for Missourians with chronic illnesses, and 54 percent will go to health care and treatments.
The debit cards, which could be funded by the new tobacco tax, are causing worry among some Missourians. The Missouri Association for Social Welfare (MASW) says the state could give debit cards to different people every year, making some people unsure if they'll be on the list to receive a card from one year to the next.
"They're going to be determined by the state and they're going to possibly change every year which is another terrible injustice to people who are looking and needing health care," said Sharon Feltman, from MASW.
MASW is also concerned the health care provided by these cards could be dilluted by doctors and hospitals getting reimbursed with the tax money. However, other groups, like the American Lung Association, disagree.
"It's going to give uninsured Missourians access to healthcare, most of which if they're using tobacco products, they don't have access to healthcare for chronic diseases so yeah this is a good proposal," said Sally Reeves of the American Lung Association.
Supporters of the proposed tax also say Missouri charges the second lowest tax in the country on cigarettes. Kansas raised its tobacco tax in 2003 to 79 cents on a twenty pack of cigarettes and ten percent tax on other tobacco products.
There are about 25 days left to get a total of 150,000 signatures on initiative petitions. If they get enough signatures, the amendment will go to voters in November of next year.