Editorial: Prop B shouldn't be down for the count

Proposition B, which would have raised Missouri’s cigarette tax to 90 cents from 17, failed Tuesday night.

But it wasn’t by much — 49.2 percent of voters supported the tax increase. If anything, the results should encourage lawmakers to keep pushing for a higher cigarette tax and more revenue for higher education.

Approval for the proposition came from areas of Missouri with higher education institutions. That’s not surprising considering the support colleges and universities would have gotten if Prop B had passed. It is surprising that many of those voters were also students, and it's impressive students came out strongly in support of the tax.

It is disappointing to see the proposition fail, especially in the context of other states’ passed initiatives. Colorado and Washington both legalized recreational marijuana, which will mean a brand new source of revenue. Raising the lowest cigarette tax in the country should be easier than that.

Missourians tend to be against raising taxes no matter what. We need to comprehensively look at ballot issues, not make decisions based on advertisements. The giant orange billboards in opposition to Prop B — advertising a 760-percent tax increase, with the slogan “Enough is enough” and no mention of higher education funding — are sure to have swung some uninformed voters, and proponents for the tax should have produced better advertisements to combat them.

Gov. Jay Nixon campaigned on never raising taxes, so it’s unlikely a higher cigarette tax will be passed within Missouri’s general assembly. But young voters are in favor of raising the tax, and lawmakers have to keep pushing for new revenue.

It’s ass-backward that Missouri can’t garner the support to raise the cigarette tax, while other states are legalizing marijuana for revenue. But support is growing, it's crucial lawmakers don’t forget about this initiative.

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