Missouri Convenience Store Group Backs Ciggarette Tax Increase

(AP) — A group of Missouri gas station and convenience store owners that fought some previously proposed cigarette tax increases announced Monday it was backing a 23-cent tax hike per pack.
The Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association has proposed two petitions to raise Missouri’s cigarette tax, currently the lowest in the nation at 17 cents per pack, to 40 cents. If the proposal is approved for circulation and the group gets enough signatures, the issue would be on the ballot next year.
The move is striking in part because the association was the most prominent opponent of a 2012 initiative to ramp up cigarette taxes to 90 cents per pack. That proposal failed by less than 1 percent.
But now, with other groups pushing tax hikes higher than the 23-cent proposal, association Executive Director Ron Leone touted his group’s plans as “reasonable” increases.
“We think the unreasonable and outrageous tax increases are going to fail,” Leone said. “People are going to say `no’ to those again.”
An education group is pitching a 50-cent increase, to 67-cents per pack, with plans to earmark the money for early childhood education.
Raise Your Hand for Kids Executive Director Erin Brower said the 23-cent increase is “reasonable for convenience stores.” But she said the 50-cent increase her group is backing has voter support and would keep Missouri’s competitive advantage for inexpensive cigarettes.

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