Election Day is less than a week away, and the sides in Amendment 3 – the tobacco tax ballot initiative – are intent on campaigning right up to the time the polls close next Tuesday.
The Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association is one of the organizations fighting the initiative. Executive Director Ron Leone says this 470 percent tax hike – the largest single tax increase in the state’s history – will have negative economic consequences. He says small businesses that sell tobacco products – especially the businesses near Missouri’s state borders – will be hurt because customers will cross state lines to buy cigarettes.
Many organizations and individuals supporting the initiative make up the Committee for a Healthy Future. One of those supporters is Cindy Erickson, former Chief Executive Officer of the American Lung Association of Missouri. She rejects arguments Missouri’s economy would suffer if the initiative passes, saying people who buy tobacco products are not likely to spend gas money to cross state lines.
As to where this additional revenue would end up, Leone points out only 17-and-a-half cents from every dollar collected would end up going to smoking prevention and cessation efforts, while the rest would be used to provide health care to the needy and to pay health care professionals. Erickson insists the 17.5 cents on the dollar is the percentage for anti-tobacco efforts recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Interview with Ron Leone
Interview with Cindy Erickson