Missouri Now Has Nation’s Lowest Tobacco Tax
South Carolina’s recent decision to raise its tax on tobacco products leaves Missouri with the nation’s lowest tax on cigarettes — a situation unlikely to change soon, observers say.
St. Louis Public Radio reported June 10 that despite major budget problems and deep cuts in social programs, state lawmakers have not given serious consideration to increasing the 17-cent-per-pack cigarette tax to raise revenues. Both Gov. Jay Nixon — a Democrat — and the Republican-led legislature are on record as opposing any tax increases, including hikes on cigarette or alcohol taxes.
A bill to raise the cigarette tax to 33 cents per pack didn’t even get a hearing this year, and a plan for a 12-cents-per-pack increase to help pay for medical care was also rejected.
Part of the challenge in Missouri is the state’s Hancock Amendment, which requires voter approval for all tax increases. In the past decade, state voters have twice rejected calls to increase tobacco taxes.