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Americans for Tax Reform submitted written testimony today for a hearing on Missouri’s House Bill 517 in the House Committee on Downsizing State Government.  

HB 517 is a pro-taxpayer reform that will protect Missouri’s businesses and consumers from damaging regulations imposed by local governments on reduced harm tobacco alternatives. ATR urged lawmakers to support the legislation in the interests of safeguarding Missouri’s public health and state economy. 

Tim Andrews, ATR’s Director of Consumer Issues, wrote “It is simply good governance that matters of this magnitude be decided at the state level, due to both the level of increased scrutiny, transparency and accountability it provides, but also the direct impact it has on state tax revenue should a product be banned.” 

Andrews also urged legislators to consider the impact that HB 517 would have on state revenues, noting “State budgets would also be negatively affected through the forgoing of tax revenue from state income taxes caused by a burgeoning black market, caused by the smuggling of illicit products between different jurisdictions and sold without appropriate state taxes being paid.  As such, protecting citizens from these policies is not only the moral thing to do, but also in the direct interest of lawmakers in Jefferson City.” 

Andrews noted the importance of protecting the freedom of Missourians, writing “It is important to note that, contrary to some arguments made by opponents of this bill, “local control” at its core is about safeguarding individual liberties and restricting the growth of government; it is not a free pass for cities to do whatever they want. Localities are just as capable of being conduits for heavy-handed laws that will harm citizens. When that is at stake, state action is not only appropriate to safeguard individual freedoms – it is essential.” 

Andrews concluded by stressing the benefits that HB 517 will have on public heath, stating that “Vapor products would save nearly 125,000 lives if a majority of Missouri smokers made the switch to vaping, extrapolating from a large-scale analysis performed by leading cancer researchers and coordinated by Georgetown University Medical Centre. HB 517 will have a tremendous impact on public health and would decrease socioeconomic disparities significantly as it will prevent localities from prohibiting life-saving treatment.” 

The full testimony can be read here