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Judge orders tobacco tax proposal onto November ballot

By Bill Raack, KWMU

St. Louis – A state judge Monday ordered a proposed tobacco tax increase to appear on Missouri's November 7 ballot, ruling that supporters had gathered enough valid petition signatures.

The Missouri Secretary of State's office had determined that the ballot initiative fell short of the number of signatures required, but Cole County Circuit Judge Thomas Brown overturned that decision.

An attorney for the Committee for a Healthy Future, Chuck Hatfield, said he expects opponents will keep working against the initiative.

"There was clearly a lot of effort put in to try to stop this initiative, primarily funded by the tobacco companies," Hatfield said. "I mean, the courthouse was full of attorneys and lobbyists for tobacco interests and I fully expect that they're going to continue to fight on this."

The proposed constitutional amendment will ask voters to raise the state's 17-cent-per-pack cigarette tax to 97 cents and increase taxes on other tobacco products to 30 percent of the manufacturer's invoice price, instead of the current ten percent.

Projected proceeds of at least $351 million per year would go toward health care and anti-tobacco programs.

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