Missouri is losing millions of dollars from the 1998 tobacco settlement because of a legislative loophole that allows smaller tobacco companies to keep a competitive edge in the state. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Missouri is the only one of the 46 states involved in the settlement that hasn't acted to stop smaller tobacco companies from recouping the money they pay into a settlement escrow fund.
Big tobacco companies say that gives the smaller firms a six-dollar per carton pricing advantage. Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer says it cost Missouri almost $70 million in settlement funds this year and could cost the state as much as $2 billion over the next decade. For the fourth year in a row, the Columbia Republican has introduced legislation to close the loophole.
The state House is considering a similar bill. Right now, both bills are in committee.