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Business, health leaders rally for Mo. tobacco tax

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri business, health and education leaders are joining forces to boost support for increasing the state's tobacco tax.

Proposition B on Missouri's Nov. 6 ballot seeks to raise the cigarette tax from the current 17 cents per pack to 90 cents.

Missouri's tax is now the lowest in the nation. Voters rejected smaller increases in 2002 and 2006.

Education officials hope to tap into the nearly $300 million the increase is projected to generate each year, with most of the revenue going toward public schools.

A news conference is scheduled Wednesday at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. Participants include top leaders of the University of Missouri system, the system's Columbia campus and CoxHealth and Mercy health systems of Springfield.