Missourians Will Vote On Two New Tobacco Taxes

Missourians Will Vote On Two New Tobacco Taxes

By Shoshana Dubnow, Anna Kohls and Isabel Lohman

Missourians will find both a constitutional amendment and a proposition concerning an increased tobacco tax on their ballot this Tuesday.

Cigarette smokers in Missouri are familiar with paying the 17 cent tobacco tax when they go out to buy a pack. Missouri has the lowest tobacco taxes in the country, according to Tobacco-Free Kids. This may not be the case for long.

Jane Deuker, a representative for “Yes On 3 For Kids,” said she wouldn’t mind if both proposals passed.

“I am totally fine with both Amendment 3 and Proposition A going into effect. I mean, a double tax on tobacco? That’s great,” Deuker said.

It is unclear, however, if the tax on tobacco would double if voters approve both Amendment 3 and Proposition A, according to Ballotpedia. A Missouri Statute states that if voters approve conflicting statues or conflicting amendments, the amendment or statute with the most votes prevails. However, this rule doesn’t apply to a conflicting proposition and amendment. As a result, the courts would most likely decide whether or not both tax increases would go into effect if voters approve both Amendment 3 and Proposition A, according to the Springfield News-Leader.

Deuker is a bigger advocate for Amendment 3. Amendment 3’s funding will go toward early childhood education programs such as Raise Your Hand For Kids, the organization that started the “Yes On 3 For Kids” campaign.

Educational groups like the Missouri National Education Association oppose Amendment 3, according to Ballotpedia.

“The amendment permits public tax dollars to fund programs at elite private or religious schools,” MNEA President Charles Smith said in a press release. “It lacks strong oversight and it places all decisions in the hands of an unelected commission a majority of whom do not have a background in education.”

Proposition A plans to use the money raised from higher tobacco taxes to fund transportation and infrastructure. Ron Leone, executive director of the Petroleum Marketer and Convenience Store Association, believes the funding will benefit all Missourians.

“The money generated by that tax increase goes into an existing need which is to make our bridges better and safer. And we feel that benefits all Missourians,” Leone said.

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch poll released in late October showed both proposals have high opposition rates. According to the survey, Missourians oppose Proposition A by 54 percent and Amendment 3 by 49 percent. The results aren’t looking too favorable for both sides.

While supporters of Amendment 3 continue to campaign, Leone said he is now dedicating his efforts to defeating Amendment 3.

“We had to make the very difficult decision to essentially put aside our efforts to pass proposition A— leaving the fate of proposition A up to the gods. We are focusing 110 percent of our efforts on defeating Amendment 3,” Leone said.

Both Proposition A and Amendment 3 are opposed by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Missouri, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and Tobacco-Free Missouri, according to a press release by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

“Tobacco taxes work when the price increase is substantial enough to motivate current smokers to quit and prevent kids from starting. A dime here or there is not sufficient,” according to the press release. “Tobacco companies are adept at finding ways to absorb small tax increases through adjusted pricing. What’s worse, these marginal increases could hamper future efforts; promising profitable returns for the tobacco industry at the continued expense of Missourians’ health.”

Missourians have the opportunity to vote for either or both proposals this upcoming Election Day.

Edited by Aviva Okeson-Haberman | arodn9@mail.missouri.edu 

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