Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, is sponsoring a bill that would raise taxes on a pack of cigarettes.
Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation at 17 cents a pack, compared to the national average of $1.46.
House Bill 1673 increases the excise tax on cigarettes in the state of Missouri by .04 per pack for the next four years. The estimated $80 million revenue generated from the tax will be placed into the State’s General Revenue fund, according to Ellinger's office.
Currently, there are two other bills being proposed that would also aim to increase the cigarette tax, but at much higher rates.
According to KBIA, Rep. Mary Still of Columbia wants to raise the tax to 89 cents a pack, with the revenue going to public education and Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford of St. Louis wants an increase of 75 percent of the national average to about $1 a pack this year. Part of the revenue would go to paying for tobacco prevention and cessation.
Ellinger’s proposal provides needed reform to our cigarette tax and increases revenues for the state government while ensuring that the state has the second lowest excise tax in the nation, ahead of only Virginia.
"Given the politics, and the fact that this is Missouri, which is an extremely poor state now -- we have to face that -- and we have leadership from our governor and our representatives and senators who do not believe in any taxes, given that framework and that atmosphere, I think my bill is realistic," Ellinger told KBIA this week.
All three bills were heard by House Committee on Ways and Means but with the legislative session winding down, they may or may not be voted on by the full House before the end of session.