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      Anti-smoking group to show support for HB491

      A group of anti-smoking and health care advocates are holding a news conference Tuesday, at which they plan to announce their support for House Bill 491.

      The group calls themselves "Citizens to Stamp out Cheap Cigarettes". They are led by former State Representative Dr. Wayne Cooper. Cooper is a family physician in Camdenton.

      House Bill 491 would require tobacco companies who are not currently part of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to pay an allocable share.

      According to the group, because Missouri does not require all manufacurers to pay a share, the state has the cheapest cigarettes.

      "There is a direct correlation, established through numerous studies, between the price of cigarettes and smoking rates, particularly for young people," said Dr. Cooper. "Anything we can do to provide more disincentives to smoke will be a positive step for better health in Missouri."

      According to data from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, MIssouri has the 5th highest smoking rate of any state in the U.S. The youth smoking rate, 18.9%, is also one of the nation's highest.

      Joining Dr. Cooper at the press conference are physicians, health care workers, anti-smoking advocates and lawmakers. Representatives from the American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, and the American Lung Association have also testified in favor of House Bill 491.

      The conference will be held at 10 A.M. in the House Lounge on the third floor of the Missouri state capital.

      What do you think? Is it unfair that certain tobacco companies are not being required to pay the same fees and fines that others are? Do you think this fact is what causes our smoking rate to sky rocket? Leave a comment below on what you think of House Bill 491.