By Darin Powell, Bowling Green R-1 Superintendent
Proposition B will appear on the November ballot and is the result of an initiative petition circulated by the American Cancer Society to reduce smoking and improve health care in Missouri. It is important to note that this proposal was not created to generate money for any specific entity. Proposition B will increase the cigarette tax by 73 cents a pack. Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the country. If Proposition B passes, the total cigarette tax will be 90 cents per pack. The national average is $1.46. Missouri is 11th highest in smoking prevalence in the country. There are 8,600 Missouri kids (under 18) who become daily smokers each year and almost 20 percent of Missouri high school students smoke.
Proposition B will generate about $283 million each year. Twenty percent of this amount will be used on smoking cessation programs that help adult smokers quit and keep kids from ever starting. Thirty percent will go to higher education with a focus on training future caregivers, and the largest share, fifty percent, will go to Missouri elementary and secondary schools. The proposal includes safeguards, including regular public audits that will ensure the new revenue is spent as voters intend.
This smoking cessation proposal will provide the Bowling Green R-I School District between $208,517 and $311,670 each year to help fund our schools. We can use the funds to pay for teacher recruitment, retention, salaries, or professional development; school construction, renovation, or leasing; technology enhancements, textbooks, or instructional materials; school safety; or supplying additional funding for required state and federal programs. Revenues from this fund will hopefully be the highest when it is enacted and then fall from that point as Missourians quit smoking. The auditor’s $283 million revenue projection includes a reduction in tobacco use in the state and is a reliable and stable funding number for long-term planning purposes.