The Prop B Bus Tour — Show Me a Brighter Future — stopped at the Washington riverfront Monday afternoon.
The bus tour, which got under way Oct. 1 and continues through this week, is visiting more than 20 cities across the state to share information regarding Proposition B and its health and educational benefits.
The Prop B initiative is seeking a 73-cent tax increase per pack of cigarettes and a percentage increase on other tobacco products. The proposition will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
A small number of supporters were on hand for the Washington event, including Diane Brunworth, former Washington School Board member, and Wendy Wildberger, representing the local Breathe Easy group.
Misty Snodgrass of the American Cancer Society and spokesperson for Show-Me a Brighter Future spoke at Monday’s event. She said passage of Prop B will save lives and invest in education.
Snodgrass said Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax in the country at 17 cents.
If approved, the initiative would generate $283 million in new revenue annually for the state.
Snodgrass said revenue from the tobacco tax would be split three ways, with an emphasis on providing new funding for Missouri schools:
• 20 percent of revenue would fund prevention and cessation programs for smokers who want to quit and to keep kids from starting to smoke.
• 50 percent of revenue would go into Missouri’s elementary and secondary education classrooms to help prevent staff reductions and increased classroom sizes.
• 30 percent of revenue would go to Missouri’s colleges and universities to support education opportunities.
“Half of the money from Prop B is dedicated to elementary and secondary education and safeguards are in place to make sure that happens,” Snodgrass said.
Brunworth urged residents to vote yes on Nov. 6. She said the Washington School District stands to gain approximately $632,000 per year in new funding if Prop B passes. East Central College in Union will receive about $503,000 annually.
“This is a significant amount of funding for schools,” she said. “Prop B will benefit all of the public schools in our area, including Pacific, Union, St. Clair, and all of the rest.”
Wildberger shared a personal story of how secondhand smoke has impacted her family. She said her mother, who had never smoked, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009. Her mom was on a bowling league for many years and regularly breathed in secondhand smoke as a result.
After having one-third of her lung removed and undergoing chemotherapy, Wildberger said her mother is now cancer-free, but still struggles with breathing issues if someone is smoking nearby.
“This makes eating out at restaurants and other activities troublesome,” she said. “We want Washington to be smoke-free.”
Show-Me a Brighter Future is a diverse coalition of Missouri organizations and individuals, led by the American Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and other educational and health organizations.