Many Missourians want to vote for one or both of the cigarette taxes on Nov. 8. Amendment 3 and Proposition A both sound good at first blush.
However, both are fatally flawed. Show-Me State voters should reject them.
People who don’t smoke often favor cigarette tax hikes, for good reasons. They want to get others to stop puffing away and creating health-care problems that the public often has to pay for. Higher taxes can stop young people from taking up the habit.
Also, people often back these taxes to raise revenue for worthwhile projects. Amendment 3 would create an Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund. Proposition A would help finance better transportation infrastructure in the state.
However, neither tax increase is remotely close to being high enough to force people to slow down or stop their smoking habit.
Amendment 3 would boost the nation’s lowest cigarette tax of 17 cents a pack to 77 cents a pack by 2020. Proposition A would add a puny 23 cents a pack by 2021. (Read the full ballot language of each ballot item here.)
Each issue also has questionable proponents.
Big Tobacco has spent millions helping Amendment 3 get to the ballot. The item contains some poison pills that could prevent research on tobacco issues, bring up questionable restrictions on stem-cell research and throw the whole thing into court over its abortion-related language.
As for the promise of helping fund early childhood programs, how all that would actually work across the Show-Me State has been lost in the smoke of the back and forth about the confusing cigarette taxes.
Meanwhile, the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association favors Proposition A. Executive Director Ronald Leone said his group was “sick and tired of fighting outrageous and unfair tobacco tax increases every few years.” That’s a horrible reason for any voter to support this minuscule tax.
Finally, look at the opponents, a Who’s Who of the anti-tobacco industry: the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and others groups.
Their joint statement: “Voters should be alarmed that those who profit from keeping smokers addicted have hijacked worthwhile causes by forcing Missourians to settle for a paltry increase in the tobacco tax that will not deter smoking.”
Both Amendment 3 and Proposition A have created confusion among voters. That should be a red light for voters.
Don’t allow Amendment 3 to become a $300-million-a-year burden on taxpayers, or Proposition A a $100-million-year burden on them, either.
Vote “no” on both.