A handful of Crestwood and Sunset Hills businesses are against a proposed 73-cent increase on cigarette taxes. While Proposition B would generate millions of dollars for school funding, tobacco retailers say the measure will likely impact their sales.
Currently, smokers pay 17-cents tax per pack, which is the lowest cigarette tax in the country. Surrounding states all have higher cigarette taxes: Iowa $1.36 per pack, Illinois 98 cents per pack, Kentucky 60 cents per pack, Tennessee 62 cents per pack, Arizona $1.15 per pack, Oklahoma $1.03 per pack, Kansas 79 cents per pack and Nebraska 64 cents per pack.
Voters will consider the tax increase on their Nov. 6 general election ballots. If Prop B is approved, it is expected to generate about $283 million a year. Twenty percent of proceeds would go toward tobacco prevention efforts, 30 percent could go to higher education and 50 percent would go to public school districts.
Funds would be distributed to K-12 schools based on average daily attendance. The first year of funding would be in the 2013-14 school year.
The proposition has been embraced by several public school districts. Last week the Lindbergh School District Board of Education passed a 6-1 resolution to support the proposition, according to a report from South County Times.
The proposition is opposed by the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, which says this would hurt Missouri's competitive advantage against other states. Several area convenience stores and tobacco outlets are supporting the Petroleum Marketers’ stance, including two Circle K convenience stores in Crestwood and Sunset Hills, BP Gasoline at Lindbergh and Gravois, and a cigar shop in Crestwood.
Signs opposing Prop B have been displayed at BP Gasoline for about two weeks, said the store’s assistant manager.
“Our boss put it up because we sell Decade…. They said with the price getting raised like that, Decades would be the same price as Marlboro’s, which would defeat the purpose of having a generic,” Paul Bolin said.
Alcorn Imported Cigars, on Watson Road, said they can't get behind a tax that would significantly raise the price of nearly all of their products.
Other convenience stores near the state line believe it will deter purchases by out-of-state customers, according to KSPR News, in turn hurting their food and drink profits.