-- which would jack up the state tax on cigarettes from 17 cents to 90 cents per pack -- are warning St. Louis and Kansas City: Don't vote for this! It will actually shrink
Perhaps, but the powers-that-be don't seem spooked at all: Both our mayor, Francis Slay, and Mayor Sly James in Kansas City tell Daily RFT
they support the measure.
The crusade against Prop B
is being spearheaded
by the Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association
, which doesn't like it for obvious reasons.
The lobby has commissioned a 48-page study
by Mizzou economics professor Joe Haslag
. Haslag points out in his study that none
of Prop B's new tax dollars go directly into a city's pocket, but
rather, toward schools and smoking prevention.
Indeed, proponents readily concede that the
whole whole point of this initiative is to nudge folks to kick a habit that causes diseases
we all must pay to treat via Medicaid.
And it should work, Dr. Haslag
points out, for anytime you raise the price of a good, some people stop
buying it. Granted, cigarette demand is fairly "inelastic," meaning it
doesn't change much as prices rise (because people are addicted).
But it does change: Many Missourians will quit, not to mention all the smokers in
bordering states who might not think it's worth it anymore to drive across
state lines into Missouri just to buy their Marlboros.
with all this, Haslag writes, is that fewer packs sold means less sales
and excise tax revenue flowing in to counties and municipalities. Thus he projects an annual loss of
$67 million, with St. Louis and Kansas
City taking the biggest hits.
In Haslag's calculation, the city of St. Louis would lose roughly $910,000 in sales tax and $340,000 in excise tax each year (or $1.25 million combined).
But Mayor Slay's staff e-mailed us to say hizzoner will vote "yes" on Prop B,
"for the same reason he supports clean air in enclosed spaces. Passage of Prop B will make Missouri a healthier state, making it more likely that adult smokers will quit and less likely that teens will begin smoking. If it passes, it will also reduce the public and private costs of health care for smoking-related diseases."
Similarly, Jackson County (in which much of Kansas City lies) will lose a combined $1 million in sales and excise tax inflows, Haslag estimates. But Danny Rotert, communications director for Mayor Sly James, says his boss is "supportive" of Prop B.