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Broad Statewide Coalition Launches Campaign to ''Make Missouri a Healthier Place''.

Business Editors & Health/Medical Writers

ST. LOUIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 4, 2002

Increase in tobacco excise tax would fund critical healthcare,

early education and smoking cessation programs

Community leaders and concerned citizens from around Missouri gathered today to announce their support for Proposition A, the Healthy Missouri Initiative, and to call on Missourians across the state to support the campaign to help "make Missouri a healthier place for all."

At a press conference held at the Center for Advanced Medicine at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, civic organizations, child care providers, business leaders, healthcare professionals, senior citizens, moms, and other concerned citizens endorsed Proposition A. They also pledged their support to help pass the tobacco initiative, which will appear on the November 5 ballot.

Proposition A, should it pass will increase access to quality and affordable healthcare, make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors, support research to treat deadly diseases, expand childcare and early childhood education opportunities, and reduce smoking - especially among our children. It will increase the excise tax on cigarettes by 55 cents a pack, and the tax on other tobacco products by 20 percent, raising $342 million annually.

All funding generated will be invested in the Healthy Families Trust Fund, which will be separate from the state budget and only available for these specific, health-related investments. The money will be divided into specific categories that will be used for grants and other funding, with 43 percent going to healthcare treatment and access (including prescription drug assistance for seniors), 29 percent to emergency medical and trauma care, 14 percent to life-science research, 7 percent to smoking prevention, and 7 percent to early child care and education.

"Missourians have a once-in-a-generation opportunity on November 5 to make the state a healthier place for our kids, our seniors, and our families," said Brad Ketcher, spokesperson for Citizens for a Healthy Missouri. "Through an increase in the excise tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products, the Healthy Missouri Initiative will provide $342 million that will be invested directly into health and healthcare in Missouri."

"This initiative has a positive impact on every single person in the state across all geographical, economic and cultural borders. And, we're seeing just as broad support for the measure," said Ketcher. "Citizens for a Healthy Missouri is growing at a rapid pace with more than 50 organizations and individuals already endorsing the campaign. The momentum behind this is effort is phenomenal."

Lori Pickens, CEO of the American Lung Association of Eastern Missouri and Chair of the Missouri Partnership on Smoking or Health said, "Tobacco use is killing our citizens. Each year more than 10,000 Missourians die from tobacco use and nearly 17,000 Missouri children become daily smokers. At the same time, we have one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the nation. It is time to reverse the trends, pass Proposition A, and invest in our future."

The AARP Missouri also endorsed Proposition A. "Proposition A is about making Missouri a healthier place for our seniors," said Norma Collins from AARP Missouri. "Right now, too many of our seniors are having to choose between filling their prescriptions or paying their bills. This initiative will make it easier for senior citizens to access the prescription drugs they need to live. Proposition A really can create a healthier Missouri."

Also at the event, Barbara Hover, a mother of five from Springfield, introduced Moms for Prop A. "As president of the Springfield Council of PTAs, a mother, and someone who has lost family members to smoking-related illnesses, I felt it was important to help organize a group of moms who could do something to improve the health and well-being of our children and grandchildren. It will mean better healthcare, efforts to help keep our kids from smoking, and expanded early childhood and education programs," she said. "I urge my fellow moms from across the state, and everyone who is interested in making Missouri a healthier place for our families, to join our effort and support Proposition A on November 5."

Citizens for a Healthy Missouri is a cross section of healthcare professionals, educators, senior citizens, business and community leaders, and anti-smoking advocates from across the state. Following is a full list of endorsements.

 Citizens for Proposition A Endorsements

AARP Missouri
American Cancer Society
American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Missouri Section
American College of Physicians, Missouri Chapter
American Lung Association of Eastern Missouri
American Heart Association, Heartland Affiliate
American Society of Internal Medicine, Missouri Chapter
Catholic Community Services
Citizens for Missouri's Children
Civic Council of Greater Kansas City
Civic Progress
Community Health-in-Partnership Services
Cox Health Systems
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Family Care Health Centers
Greater St. Louis Obstetrics/Gynecology Society
Green County Medical Society
Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute
Kansas City Gynecological Society
Kansas City Society of Ophthalmology & Otolaryngology
Lake of the Ozarks Medical Society
March of Dimes - Greater Missouri Chapter
Metropolitan Congregations United for St. Louis
Metropolitan Medical Health Foundation
Metropolitan Medical Society of Greater Kansas City
Mineral Area Medical Society
Missouri Ambulance Association
Missouri Academy of Family Physicians
Missouri Biotechnology Association
Missouri Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
Missouri Chapter, American College of Cardiology
Missouri Coalition for Budget & Policy Priorities c/o Catholic Charities
Missouri College of Emergency Physicians
Missouri Dental Association
Missouri Dermatologic Society
Missouri Hospital Association
Missouri Nurses Association
Missouri Partnership on Smoking or Health
Missouri Primary Care Association
Missouri Psychiatric Society
Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists
Missouri State Medical Association
North Central Missouri Medical Society
Nurses for Newborns
Older Women's League
Pettis County Medical Association
St. Charles/Lincoln County Medical Society
St. Louis Maternal Child & Family Health Coalition
St. Louis Metropolitan Medical Society
St. Louis Pediatric Society
St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association
St. Louis Regional Health Commission
St. Louis University School of Public Health
Springfield Council of PTAs
State Street Bank
University of Missouri-Columbia, Medical Alumni Organization
University of Missouri Nursing Alumni Organization
University Physician Associates
Webster County Medical Society
West Central Medical Society
Western Missouri Psychiatric Society

Paid for by Citizens for a Healthy Missouri Committee, Gregory Kleffner, Treasurer
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1U4MO
Date:Oct 4, 2002
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