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McCaskill backs cigarette tax increase, even if it costs her supporters

Chris McDaniel
Beyond November

Democratic US Senator Claire McCaskill is throwing her support behind the November ballot initiative that would raise the cigarette tax in Missouri. If approved, the initiative would increase the current cigarette tax from the lowest in the nation at 17 cents, to 90 cents.

The increased revenue would go toward K-12 schools and higher education programs. McCaskill said she understands voting for it might cost her some support.

“I’m not supposed to say I’m for a tax increase," McCaskill said at a St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association meeting. "That’s politically not allowed. But it’s the right thing to do. Our cigarette tax is 17 cents; the average tax is $1.35.  We could be the cheapest in the Midwest even with the additional tax.”

If the tax passes, Missouri would actually border a few states with lower cigarette taxes. Kansas, Nebraska, Tennessee and Kentucky all currently have cigarette taxes of 79 cents or less.

McCaskill added that if this issue loses the election for her, so be it. She joked that it "probably made some people mad, but it's not a good speech if you haven't made somebody mad by the time it's over."

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

  • See more stories on issues and elections from St. Louis Public Radio, the St. Louis Beacon and Nine Network of Public Media at BeyondNovember.org.