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CONTACT: Patrick Morgester, Health Department (816) 513-6211

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Barry Seward, Health Midwest, (816) 276-9169; and Cathy Davis, UAW Ford Community Health Care Initiative, (816) 453-4424

Health Commission supports tobacco tax increase

On Oct. 4 the Kansas City Health Commission’s steering committee unanimously approved a resolution supporting Proposition A, the Healthy Missouri Initiative. The committee voted to forward a recommendation to the City Council’s Neighborhood Development Committee to request a council resolution in support of the Nov. 5 ballot initiative. Missouri currently ranks last in the nation in investing in tobacco use prevention efforts.

The Health Commission supports the Healthy Missouri ballot initiative to amend Missouri law to impose an additional excise tax of 55 cents on a pack of cigarettes and a 20 percent increase in the tax on other tobacco products. This money would then be placed in the Healthy Families Trust Fund.

The trust fund money would be used for: hospital trauma care and emergency preparedness; health care treatment and access including prescription drug assistance for seniors and health care initiatives for low income citizens, women, minorities, and children; life sciences research including medical research and the proper administration of funds for such research; and smoking prevention and grants for early childhood care and education

Each year, 10,000 Missourians die from tobacco use and nearly 17,000 Missouri children become daily smokers. The Kauffman Foundation’s teen survey reports smoking prevalence among Kansas City school children each year. Based on information in the 2000-01 survey, almost 15 percent of eighth graders used cigarettes in the past month as had about one-quarter of 10th graders and a little over 30 percent of high school seniors.

Smoking prevention and cessation programs that reach children before they start smoking may encourage more Missourians to choose a tobacco free lifestyle. Studies show aggressive tobacco prevention campaigns are effective and do deter children from beginning to smoke.

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