Missouri secretary of state approves tobacco tax increase petition

Friday, January 13, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The heat is on to increase Missouri's relatively low tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan approved a ballot referendum petition for circulation by the American Cancer Society.

Although several draft petitions have already been approved by the secretary of state for possible inclusion on next November's ballot, cigarette tax increase proponents are trying to hedge their bets in 2012 by circulating multiple proposals.

The latest petition asks voters to support a tax of 3.65 cents per cigarette to fund anti-smoking education programs. The same position would also levy a tax of 25 percent on roll-your-own tobacco and 15 percent on other tobacco products.

Although many Republican leaders in the General Assembly have shunned the idea of increasing any taxes, including on tobacco, supporters of the movement say the additional revenue could help the state during its current budget crisis.

Before any statutory changes can be brought before Missouri voters in November 2012, signatures must be obtained from 5 percent of registered voters in six of the state's nine congressional districts by May of next year.

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