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    Missouri Coalition Seeks Bigger Tobacco Tax

    Health professionals want revenue to help with care needs and research.

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A coalition of health advocates wants to ask voters to raise Missouri's cigarette tax to fund health-care research. The Citizens for a Healthy Missouri said its proposal to raise the tobacco state's tax by as much as 55 cents per pack could raise more than $300 million a year and possibly reduce the number of smokers.

    Legislation already pending in Missouri would raise cigarette taxes by 41 cents. But the coalition is making its move as a backup in case Senate and House tobacco tax bills fail.

    Missouri smokers already pay a tax of 17 cents per pack. The proposals would increase the tax by 50 cents or 55 cents, and some versions would increase the cost on other tobacco products by 20 percent of the manufacturer's invoice price.

    The coalition includes the Missouri Hospital Association, Civic Council of Kansas City, Civic Council of St. Louis and the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association. As a first step, the measure's language must be approved by state officials. Then, supporters would have to gather about 120,000 signatures from voters by May 5. The coalition likely would chose one of the eight versions to submit for the ballot.

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