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Tobacco Tax Ordered onto Ballot

By Kelley Weiss

Kansas City, MO – A circuit judge ruled yesterday to allow a tobacco tax increase on the November ballot, but opponents of the tax say they are not going to stop fighting the proposed measure. KCUR's Kelley Weiss reports.

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Last month Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan disqualified the tobacco tax ballot initiative because it was short 274 petition signatures in Kansas City's 5th Congressional District. But Kansas City area election's boards recounted the signatures and found that supporters had collected enough signatures.

The Committee for a Healthy Future's attorney, Chuck Hatfield, says that the elections board admitted they were overwhelmed by the thousands of signatures they needed to verify and had many temporary workers reviewing the petitions.

Chuck Hatfield: "In some cases, and this was rare, the checker simply missed the signature and for whatever reason did not check it. In other cases they just marked it wrong, in other words they marked an individual was not registered when it fact they were registered."

The tax increase would raise Missouri's 17-cents-a-pack cigarette tax to 97 cents and the projected proceeds of the at least $351 million dollars a year would go toward health care and anti-tobacco programs. But, opponents of the measure will file an appeal against the ruling on Tuesday citing that the decision violates the state's law on petition requirements.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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