Two large health institutions and school officials in Hannibal are speaking out for proposition B, which would increase the cigarette tax by 73 cents.
Gas station and convenience store owners have been campaigning for months trying to convince voters to say no to proposition B, but Thursday night's announcement from Hannibal health officials is the first major plea to voters from the other side.
Health officials said they hope a tax increase will help decrease smoking and improve the health of the community.
"We are concerned about the number of deaths we have that are cancer related from smoking," said Hannibal Regional Healthcare Systems President Todd Aherns.
Missouri has the eleventh highest smoking rate in the country.
That's why Hannibal Regional Healthcare Systems President Todd Aherns and Hannibal Clinic President and surgeon Michael Bukstein are voicing their support for proposition B.
Bukstein hopes a 73-cent tax hike would discourage teenagers from even starting to smoke.
"By not introducing youth to smoking, by decreasing the percent of people smoking in the schools that will translate later into healthier people in our community and that is our goal," said Burkstein.
Bukstein also said fewer smokers lowers the number of cases of lung cancer, and many other types of cancer.
"There are 38 other cancers that there is documented evidence that smoking is related. There is pancreatic, esophageal cancer, oral cancer. There are just any number of cancers that are increased by smoking," said Bukstein.
Hannibal School officials are also behind Prop B.
That's because the revenue from the tax hike is expected to generate an additional $400- $800,000 a year for the school district.
Hannibal School District Superintendent Jill Janes said that money could be put to good use.
"It would be very helpful for teachers' salaries. It would be helpful for benefits because benefit costs are rising and also any capital project you would want to do, so I think those would be the top three things we would look at," said Janes.
To hear from business owners on the other side of the issue, read a story WGEM reported earlier.
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