The Missouri National Education Association says a proposed tobacco tax increase would eliminate protections that allow stem cell research. Amendment 3 aims to help pregnant mothers and youth quit smoking and pay for early childhood programs and health screenings for children. MNEA political director Mark Jones says the measure is not in the best interest of Missouri’s students.
“Educators were very concerned that early childhood education is being used as a tool and a prop,” says Jones.
St. Louis attorney Jane Dueker, who represents supporters of the ballot measure, says the amendment does not ban stem cell research in Missouri.
“All it does is says this money will not go to this. That’s it. In fact, it incorporates the constitutional amendment for stem cells saying all that we’re saying is the money raised by this tax does not go to the research that is protected by the constitution,” says Dueker.
Dueker says since many Missourians oppose stem cell research, the group decided to exclude funding for it in the proposal.
“Before Amendment 3, there’s no public funding of stem cell. After Amendment 3, there would be no public funding of stem cell. It doesn’t change anything,” says Dueker.
The measure will be on the November 8 general election ballot. If passed, it’s expected to raise about $300 million a year.
Missourians will have the chance to vote on two tobacco tax increase proposals on the November ballot. The other is led by The Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. MPCA wants to increase the tobacco tax by 23 cents per pack to help pay for Missouri’s growing infrastructure needs. If endorsed by voters, the measure is expected to produce about $80-$100 million annually.