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Letter To The Editor on Proposition B: Tobacco Taxes Save Lives, Protect Kids

John R. Seffrin, PhD, the CEO of the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network writes in support of Prop. B on the November 6 ballot.

The following was submitted as a Letter To The Editor. You can post your own via a Patch Blog.

Thirty-five people a day die from cancer in Missouri. One-third of those deaths are directly attributable to tobacco use. That loss of life is tragic -- and it’s preventable. We have a moral imperative to do everything we can to reduce the toll of this devastating disease on families in our state and our country.

Missourians have the opportunity Nov. 6 to take direct aim at cancer with a yes vote on Proposition B. The ballot measure would increase the state cigarette tax by 73 cents and invest $283 million a year into Missouri schools and programs to prevent tobacco use.

Tobacco taxes have been proven to be the most effective way to reduce smoking rates and to help prevent kids from starting the deadly habit. If passed, Prop. B would compel more than 33,000 adult smokers in Missouri to quit and prevent more than 40,000 kids from ever becoming addicted. The bottom line for Missouri: less smoking will mean less cancer and lower health care costs.

For nearly 100 years, the American Cancer Society has pursued a single goal – to reduce death and suffering from cancer. Thanks to the fundraising efforts of our volunteers -- 3 million of whom participate in Relay For Life events in Missouri and across the country -- the Society has invested millions of dollars into groundbreaking cancer research, provided crucial support to cancer patients and their families and, through the work of its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), lobbied federal, state and local governments to implement proven policies that help fight and prevent the disease.

The American Cancer Society and ACS CAN support Prop. B because we know it will save lives. If passed, more than 22,000 people in Missouri won’t die prematurely from tobacco use. The revenue raised from Prop. B will be invested directly in Missouri public schools and in much-needed programs that prevent kids from smoking and help adults quit. Prop. B will improve the health of the state and help fund schools -- a win-win that guarantees a brighter future for Missouri’s children and families.

The only opponents of Prop. B are tobacco companies and their allies, who together profit from the addiction and death their products cause. The tobacco companies know that higher taxes will result in fewer kids buying tobacco products – which means fewer kids becoming addicted adult customers. A no vote will allow tobacco companies free reign to continue exploiting the health of Missouri’s kids for their profit.

Don’t be misled by the opposition’s smokescreen -- the truth is clear. A yes vote on Prop. B will mean fewer kids who start smoking, fewer deaths from tobacco use and lower health care costs for Missouri. Join the American Cancer Society and ACS CAN and vote yes on Prop. B for a healthy future for Missouri.

John R. Seffrin, PhD 
CEO, American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

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