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Tobacco Tax Will Stay on Ballot

By Kelley Weiss

Kansas City, MO – The Missouri Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion that will allow a proposed tobacco tax to stay on the November ballot. After months of legal disputes voters will now decide the fate of Amendment 3, which would raise taxes on cigarettes by five times. KCUR's Kelley Weiss reports.

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The state Supreme Court ruling upheld a Cole County judge's decision despite the opponent's appeal to the court on how petition signatures were collected for the initiative and how the tax money would be used.

Cindy Erickson, a spokesperson for supporters of the tax, says the Committee for a Health Future will now focus on informing voters on what the proposed amendment would mean.

Cindy Erickson: "We have one of the highest smoking rates in the country, we have one of the lowest taxes in the country and this tobacco tax is about being able to save lives and improve health care access."

Missouri has the second lowest tobacco tax in the country and Erickson says raising taxes on cigarettes from 17-cents-a-pack to 97-cents would bring it closer to the national average. And, she says, the tax's estimated $350 million in yearly revenues would help subsidize health care for low-income Missourians and fund anti-smoking programs.

Marc Ellinger, the opponent's attorney, says it's possible to file a motion for a re-hearing with the Missouri Supreme Court before Friday afternoon but at this time a decision has not been made.

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

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