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    Missouri C-store Chain Voices Opposition to Cigarette Levy Hike

    Rapid Roberts officials worry 73-cent increase would affect border state business.

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. -- With three weeks to go until the election, Missouri voters have more to think about than which presidential candidate they should pull the lever for. On this year's ballot is Proposition B, which if approved would raise the state's cigarette tax by 73 cents.

    The tax hike will help Missouri schools; however, opponents argue that the move could hurt business from out-of-state visitors. Specifically, according to KSPR.com, convenience stores fear bringing the tax in line with neighboring states would lower the visitor counts.

    Officials with Springfield, Mo.-based Rapid Roberts, a c-store retailer, told the news outlet the current 17-cents-per-pack levy was a big reason the company opened stores near the state line nearly 30 years ago. Rapid Roberts said more than 75 percent of business at those stores comes from Arkansas drivers; the neighboring state charges almost a dollar more per pack of cigarettes.

    Rapid Roberts executives added that with a higher tax on cigarettes people won't drive across state line and won't fill up their gas tanks, or buy chips or anything else the convenience stores sell.

    In fact, Rapid Roberts' website greets visitors with a message to vote "no" on Proposition B. "Prop B is devastating to Missouri's economy: cross-border sales of gasoline, alcohol, tobacco and beer will plummet; small family businesses will close and jobs will be lost," states the message. "Still think Prop B is only a tax on smokers?"

     

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