Higher tobacco taxes will benefit our children and grandchildren

Missouri tobacco tax is 17 cents per pack, by far the lowest in the country. The national average is $ 1.49 per pack. Proposal B on the ballot on November adds 75 cents to the tax.

This new tax will generate more than $ 250 million revenue, specially designed for elementary, secondary and higher education, as well as support for tobacco prevention and cessation. The rise in prices at this level always leads to a reduction in cigarette smoking, along with a surge in demand for smoking cessation programs.

But much more important is the enormous health benefits of B will offer our children for generations to come.

Nearly 10 out of 12 smoker’s life began smoking at the age of 16. Tobacco marketers spend more than $ 1,000 on advertising for each child or adolescent smokers in captivity. Our children often become addicted before they have developed the good sense to understand all the consequences of what they did. There are 1.5 million children living in Missouri today, and about 300,000 of them are projected to become dependent smokers at the age of 18. However, conservative econometric estimates show that 73% of the rise in prices will deter about 40,000 Missouri children today from dependent smokers. And smoking, of course, would affect their health throughout their lives. Early death occurs in half of all smokers who die on average 15 years ahead of their time.

Currently, Missouri has one of the highest youth smoking rates in the country, which leads to costly diseases: emphysema, chronic bronchitis, cancer, heart disease, asthma and stroke. Smoking also contributes to high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, and aging skin. Tobacco-related illnesses are estimated every home Missouri $ 586 a year, which we pay for through increased insurance premiums and taxes.

The damage to our grandchildren did not care. Our daughter smoking cigarettes will soon have their own children. Each year, in Missouri, smoking causes about 1,800 low birth weight and premature infants (450 preterm and 1350 underweight term births). Children of mothers who smoke are also more likely to have problems at school or mental retardation later in childhood.

How much will a cigarette smoker actually have to pay? A typical pack-a-day smoker spends about $1,600 per year for the habit, and the new tax will add $267 per year. Proposition B opponents argue that 73 cents is an “outrageous 729 percent tax increase.” However, the actual added cost is the same as just 3 cigarettes per day for the average smoker. Cut out 3 cigarettes, and it costs nothing.

A “Yes” vote on Proposition B in November is a vote for the health and welfare of our children and our grandchildren, and it will improve the quality of education and lower health insurance costs for everyone. Occasionally we have given the opportunity to do so much, so easily, for so much.

Dr. Cooperstock, professor of pediatrics at the women’s and children’s hospital at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He writes as a representative of the Missouri Department of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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