On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Missourians will have the opportunity to vote to improve health by voting “yes” on Proposition B. We all agree that this is an important step in lowering the incidence of smoking in Missouri. With enough yes votes, Missouri’s tobacco tax – currently the lowest in the nation – will be raised by $.73 per pack of cigarettes.
As physicians and health care providers, we see the devastating effects of tobacco use on health every day.
• Missourians are dying earlier because of preventable illnesses, and we have the 39th lowest life expectancy in the country;
• Missouri has some of the highest smoking, lung cancer and heart disease rates in the country;
• Nearly 10,000 Missourians die each year from smoking related illnesses and disease;
• Missouri has one of the highest youth smoking rates and Northeast Missouri is one of the highest areas in the state.
• tobacco use accounts for 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of lung cancer deaths;
• tobacco use is associated with more than 30 other cancers;
• Missouri has the 11th highest smoking rate in the country; 21 percent of adults smoke; and most upsetting is:
• kids in Missouri are smoking in increasing numbers with 19.5 percent of high school students who smoke and 8,600 Missouri kids who start smoking each year.
Missouri currently does not fund smoking education, cessation or prevention programs. Missouri spends $2.13 billion on healthcare costs directly related to smoking and $532 million in related Medicaid program costs.
Increasing the price of tobacco products is a proven way to decrease smoking rates in youth. This tax will generate $283 million annually in new revenue for Missouri schools and will fund smoking prevention programs.
The beneficial effects of increased taxes on decreasing youth smoking is worthwhile.
Michael Bukstein, M.D. – President, Hannibal Clinic
C. Todd Ahrens, president, Hannibal Regional Healthcare System
Lynn Olson, president, Hannibal Regional
Bukstein, Ahrens, Olson letter: Healthcare leaders support Proposition B