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5th bill filed in Mo. Gen. Assembly to raise cigarette tax

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(via Flickr/Fried Dough)

Yet another bill has been filed in the General Assembly this year that would raise Missouri’s cigarette tax, currently the lowest in the nation.

This one would raise it to 75 percent of the current national average – in other words, from 17 cents per pack to $1.09-1/2 cents per pack.  Missouri’s tax per pack would also rise or fall as the national average changes, and it would require a referendum by Missouri voters to take effect.  The bill was filed by State Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford (D, St. Louis), who spoke in favor of raising the cigarette tax during budget debates on Thursday.

“I can’t see how in the world it would hurt business in any way in this state," Oxford said.  "What it would do is it would mean a lot of children stop smoking, and what it would do is it would mean that a lot of pregnant women stop smoking, because that’s been the experience in other states.”

Budget Chairman Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City) remains opposed to raising taxes of any kind, and pointed out during budget debates that Governor Jay Nixon (D) also remains opposed.

“You know, I don’t agree with the governor on much, but I’ll tell you what, I agree with him that we should not be raising taxes on the working families of this state during a recession," Silvey said.  "That may be the only thing I agree with him on, but we are rock solid on that.”

And a spokesman for Governor Nixon said via email this afternoon that his position on raising taxes has not changed.

Four other bills have been filed this year that would raise Missouri’s cigarette tax:

None have received hearings so far this session; however, Rep. Nasheed's bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) has also expressed support for raising the cigarette tax. 

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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