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Tobacco tax petitions seek approval for circualtion

(via Flickr/curran.kelleher)

Reporting by KCUR's Elana Gordon was used in this story.

Two petitions that would affect taxes on tobacco products in Missouri are going through the approval process for circulation.

One would give cities and counties the ability to set and control tobacco taxes. The state has preempted local tobacco taxes since 1993.

Petitions supporters say local communities should have the right to determine how tobacco tax dollars are used. But Misty Snodgrass with the American Cancer Society says the proposal is problematic.

"It doesn't have any significant public health benefit to the state," Snodgrass said, " and it won't go towards all the activities that we're focused on."

Snodgrass is leading a separate petition effort by a coalition of health groups. Their proposal would raise the state cigarette tax by 73 cents. Half the additional revenue would be directed to elementary education, a third would go to higher education and the rest would go to tobacco prevention programs.

Both groups need to collect more than 90,000 signatures by May in order for the proposals to be brought up for a vote this year.