Tobacco companies at odds over proposed cigarette tax

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR)-Missouri voters will decide in November whether a controversial measure raising the tax on a pack of cigarettes by sixty cents will become law. That`s not the only measure on the ballot that would raise cigarette taxes.

The proposal to raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by sixty cents is known as Amendment III.  The Missouri Supreme Court rejected challenges to the measure, allowing it to appear on the November 8th ballot. Amendment III would raise the tax on cigarettes each year until 2020 totaling a 60 cents increase per pack.

The measure is expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars that would go toward early childhood education programs. But the Amendment is being backed by big tobacco and that has many people concerned. Opponents to the measure call it a 'scam' saying there is language in it that targets smaller tobacco companies with higher tax increases and that could actually wind up helping larger tobacco companies.

More than 100 state lawmakers are opposing amendment three along with numerous health and medical groups. But supporters including the attorney who helped get the measure on the ballot say the opportunity to get more money to early childhood programs is the key part of the measure.

There is a second measure also on the November ballot that would raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by 23 cents a pack. That measure is being supported by smaller tobacco companies.

The funds raised under that plan would go to help fund transportation needs including repairs to roads and bridges.