2016 Big Tobacco Tax Initiative

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Missouri Cures, a statewide research/patient advocacy organization stands firmly opposed to the Amendment 3 tobacco tax proposal.
This proposed change to the state’s constitution would erode protections for stem cell research that were adopted by Missouri voters in 2006.
By weakening the state’s protections for medical research, Amendment 3 would damage our efforts to bring new treatments and cures to Missouri residents. We urge all of our supporters to vote NO on Amendment 3.

To see what language is embedded in Amendment 3 and to see what exactly it would do, see: What It Says, What It Does – CLICK HERE
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Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

Why does Missouri Cures oppose the 2016 Early Childhood Health and Education Amendment ballot initiative promoted by a group called Raise Your Hand for Kids (RYH4K)?

Missouri Cures does not take a position on the merits of a tobacco tax to support early childhood education. Our opposition to the initiative is rooted in the proposed ballot language, which states: “No funds from the Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund shall be used for human cloning or research, clinical trials, or therapies or cures using human embryonic stem cells, as defined in Article III, section 38(d).”

The effect of this sentence if it were to become part of the Missouri Constitution would be quite damaging. It would conflict with the constitution’s currently unambiguous voice protecting the freedom to conduct stem cell research in Missouri and would undermine the otherwise science friendly climate in our state.

Could there be negative repercussions if the RYH4K language is allowed to become part of the Missouri Constitution?

Yes. The Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Amendment speaks with a single, clear voice that all stem cell research permitted under federal law will be permitted in Missouri. The constitutional ambiguity introduced by the RYH4K language would open the door to attempts in the General Assembly to restrict stem cell research directly or to other tactics aimed at creating a chilling effect on research. In the best case, such legislation might be successfully blocked; but it might lead to costly, divisive litigation with unpredictable outcomes and embarrassment to our state.

The current climate in Missouri is safe for doctors and scientists who wish to participate in federally approved stem cell research. Anti-research legislation cannot threaten this freedom and cannot create a chilling effect in our research institutions, as it does in states without the same constitutional protections in place.

Could funds generated by passage of the RYH4K initiative be used to support medical research?

No. Missouri Cures has never sought taxpayer support for stem cell research, and we are not seeking it now.

If Missouri Cures supporters are not seeking funds for research, why are you opposed to the language in this initiative?

The RYH4K initiative clearly spells out that the proceeds from the tobacco tax will be used solely for the purposes of early childhood education, early childhood health care and smoking cessation programs. All other uses are prohibited.

Why then, have the supporters of the initiative seen fit to include additional language that explicitly prohibits funds from being used for “therapies and cures using human embryonic stem cells, as defined in Article III, section 38(d)”?  The answer is that the supporters of RYH4K seek to constitutionally single out and stigmatize research conducted with stem cells. This is why Missouri Cures opposes this initiative.

If the intent of the RYH4K’s initiative is clear without the anti-research language, why is it in there?

We have no doubt that this language is a calculated attempt to do harm to our research freedoms. We don’t necessarily believe that all proponents of the RYH4K ballot initiative are aware of or share that motivation. However, proponents have allowed the ballot proposal to be used by anti-research activists. It was on the fifteenth filing of the ballot proposal with the Secretary of State that changes were made that both added the harmful language and simultaneously converted a statutory initiative into a constitutional initiative. By their own internal memoranda, this new language was unnecessary and superfluous in achieving the stated goals of the initiative, i.e., to increase Missouri’s tobacco tax and to use the proceeds to fund early childhood education.

RYH4K claims the anti-research language is based on a recommendation from the report, Show-Me a Brighter Future Campaign Evaluation, by Washington University. Is this true?

No. The report in question is a post-campaign analysis of the failed 2012 tobacco tax campaign that was written by researchers at the Center for Public Health Systems Science at Washington University. The authors made no recommendation to include language which conflicts with the 2006 stem cell amendment in the RYH4K initiative. While the report does discuss language included in the 2012 ballot measure to mitigate opposition from the pro-life community, to infer that strong anti-research language should be included in future tobacco increase initiatives is a complete overreach of the authors’ intentions.

Washington University stands with Missouri Cures in opposing the language in the proposed RYH4K initiative.

What action is Missouri Cures taking to address concerns about RYH4K’s initiative?

Missouri Cures calls for the removal of the harmful and unrelated anti-research language in the ballot measure.  Until this happens, Missouri Cures stands opposed.

Paid for by Missouri Cures, Dena Ladd, Executive Director, P.O.Box 16580, St. Louis, MO 63105

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“What are we so concerned about”

(Originally posted June 1, 2016) by Donn Rubin

The 2016 Early Childhood Health and Education Amendment is a ballot initiative championed by a group called Raise Your Hand for Kids (RYH4K) to increase Missouri’s tobacco tax to support early childhood education and smoking cessation.  The initiative includes the following statement:  “No funds from the Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund shall be used for human cloning or research, clinical trials, or therapies or cures using human embryonic stem cells, as defined in Article III, section 38(d).”

The apparent intent of this language would be to prevent tobacco tax proceeds from funding stem cell research.  And since Missouri Cures has never sought taxpayer support for stem cell research, this language might seem innocuous on its face.  However, without this sentence, it is already clear that no tobacco proceeds could be used for stem cell research as the initiative clearly spells out the eligible uses of the funds, which include: early childhood education, early childhood health care, and smoking cessation programs.

The actual effect of the sentence if it were to become part of the Missouri Constitution would be quite damaging.  The constitutional ambiguity that it would create will open the door to significant harm to Missourian’s freedom to conduct stem cell research and would undermine the otherwise science-friendly climate in our state.

Since the passage in 2006 of the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Amendment, the Missouri Constitution speaks with a single, clear voice that all stem cell research permitted under federal law will be permitted in Missouri, and that legislative schemes aimed at creating a chilling effect on research will not be countenanced.   The current climate is safe for doctors and scientists who wish to participate in stem cell research.  Activist legislation in the General Assembly cannot threaten this freedom, and cannot create a dangerous chilling effect in our research institutions, as it does in some other states that do not have the same constitutional protections in place.  The 2006 amendment contains an important principle that stem cell research cannot be singled out in any way for detrimental treatment. This is an important principle that protects against legislative or administrative tactics that might otherwise circumvent the Constitution to limit the research.

The new language in the RYH4K initiative, if passed, would become part of the Missouri Constitution and would conflict with that important principle contained in the 2006 amendment. The constitution’s currently unambiguous voice protecting the freedom to conduct stem cell research would no longer be clear, but rather would be muddied by this subsequent, conflicting pronouncement.

The constitutional ambiguity introduced by the RYH4K language would open the door to legislative attempts to restrict research directly or to other tactics aimed at creating a chilling effect that currently would not pass muster under the Constitution’s unambiguous position on stem cell research.  In the best case, such legislation might be successfully blocked,  or it might lead to costly, divisive litigation with unpredictable outcomes, embarrassment to our state, and destabilizing of our science-friendly environment.

We have no doubt that this language is calculated to have precisely the impact described above by those who wish to do harm to our research freedoms.  We don’t necessarily believe that all proponents of the RYH4K ballot initiative share that intention.  However, proponents have allowed the ballot proposal to be used by anti-research activists.  It was on the fifteenth filing of the ballot proposal with the Secretary of State that changes were made that both added the harmful language and simultaneously converted a statutory initiative into a constitutional initiative. By their own internal memoranda, this new language was unnecessary and superfluous in achieving the stated goals of the initiative, i.e., to increase Missouri’s tobacco tax and to use the proceeds to fund early childhood education.  There was absolutely no reason to include language regarding stem cell research.  It’s only legal effect is to open the door for anti-research activists to pursue legislative and other strategies to ultimately achieve what they were not able to achieve in 2006 or since (through dozens of unsuccessful constitutional ballot initiatives of their own).  

This harmful and unrelated language should be removed from this initiative, which has nothing to do with medical research.

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These Groups Agree On One Thing:

Missourians Should VOTE NO On Amendment 3 

AFL-CIO
American Association of University Women
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American Heart Association
American Lung Association in Missouri
American Federation of Teachers, Local 420
BioSTL
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
Civic Council of Greater Kansas City
Concerned Women for America of Missouri
Freedom, Inc.
Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City
Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute
Missouri Alliance for Freedom
Missouri Association of Rural Education
Missouri Biotechnology Association
Missouri National Education Association
Missouri Retired Teachers Association and Public School Personnel
Missouri Cures
Missouri Farmers coalition
Mobilize Missouri
NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri
National Council of Jewish Women
Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri
Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes
Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri
SEIU MO/KS State Council
Southland Progress
Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Stowers Institute for Medical Research
Tobacco-Free Missouri
United for Missouri
Washington University in St. Louis
We Deserve Better

Wards & Democratic Committees 

St. Louis City Democratic Central Committee
1st Ward Democratic Committee
3rd Ward Democratic Committee
8th Ward Democratic Committee
11th Ward Democratic Committee
12th Ward Democratic Committee
15th Ward Democratic Committee
22nd Ward Democratic Committee
23rd Ward Democratic Committee
3rd Ward Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr.
6th Ward Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia
9th Ward Committeeman Bryan Walsh
9th Ward Committeewoman Sarah Johnson
25th Ward Alderman Shane Cohen
25th Ward Committeewoman Lori Lamprich
26th Ward Committeeman Joe Palm
27th Ward Committeewoman Pamela Boyd
13th ward Alderwoman Beth Murphy
14th Ward Alderwoman Carol Howard
22nd Ward Alderman Jeffery Boyd
20th Ward Alderwoman Cara Spencer
Macon County Republican Central Committee
Lake Area Federation of Democrats
West County Democrat Committee
In addition, 113 legislators stand opposed to constitutional Amendment 3, along with gubernatorial candidates Attorney General Chris Koster (D) and Eric Greitens (R)

Editorial Opponents

Bloomberg
Columbia Daily Tribune
Hannibal Courier-Post
The Joplin Globe
Jefferson City News Tribune
KMBC-TV
Kansas City Business Journal
The Kansas City Star
St. Joseph News-Press
St. Louis American

Paid for by We Deserve Better, Inc., Erika Jaques, Treasurer

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Tobacco Taxes Work, But Only If They’re High

When smoking costs more, more people quit. That’s why higher cigarette taxes are almost always good policy, for smokers and the public health, too.

There’s a catch, though — and it’s one that voters in four states should keep in mind as they consider ballot initiatives next month to raise cigarette taxes: Sin taxes work only if they’re high enough.

Voters in California, Colorado and North Dakota are being asked to raise state taxes to well over $2 a pack. Then there’s Missouri, where voters will choose from two increases so meager that they make a mockery of the very idea of sin taxes.

Properly calibrated, tobacco excise taxes can be a powerful weapon against smoking and the disease and death it brings. Raising taxes enough to boost the price per pack by 10 percent lowers adult consumption by 3 to 5 percent. Among teenagers, consumption falls 6 to 7 percent.

This effect is especially pronounced among lower-income smokers — the upside of imposing such a regressive tax. And it’s made even stronger if some of the tax money is invested in public-health efforts to help people quit, as the California initiative (which is supported by Michael R. Bloomberg) would do.

Substantial cigarette taxes also generate revenue, of course, but this is a secondary benefit. It’s never enough to cover the highcosts that states incur from tobacco use, in the form of Medicaid expenditures, for example, and lost productivity. Ideally, in fact, as more smokers quit, revenue from a cigarette tax should gradually diminish.

The World Health Organization says taxes should amount to 70 percent of the price of a pack of cigarettes. No taxes in the U.S. are that high, though in some cities they come close. In Chicago, the various taxes on each pack — federal, state, county and city — amount to about 60 percent of the $12 price, and public health officials say this has helped lower the smoking rate.

If California’s ballot measure passes, the state tax per pack will rise to $2.87, from 87 cents. In Colorado it will go to $2.59, up from 84 cents, and in North Dakota, to $2.20 from 44 cents. There are a couple of drawbacks: Revenue from the North Dakota tax would not be used to fund any efforts to help people quit smoking. In Colorado, electronic cigarettes would be exempt. But in all three states the increases are big enough to be worthwhile.

Missouri’s two proposals are not. And neither — one would raise the state tax to 40 cents, from 17; the other to 77 cents — would be used to fund anti-smoking efforts. So it’s not surprising tobacco companies support both proposals, and public health organizations oppose them. They seem designed not to lower Missouri’s smoking rates, but to discourage the state from ever raising taxes high enough to make a difference.

To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg View’s editorials: David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net.

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Editorial On Amendment 3: Great purpose, bad weapon

By Henry J. Waters III

Sunday, October 16, 2016

For years I have supported more resources for early education, even to the point of considering a change in our total system of funding public schools that would include an earlier year of mandatory, free attendance, even to the point of substituting a year of pre-kindergarten for the senior year of high school. We should become more serious about establishing earlier education for all our children.

Proponents of this idea have offered a number of initiatives but always run up against resistance to higher taxes. This year they try again on the November ballot with Amendment 3, which would amend the state constitution to increase cigarette taxes.

Trouble is, in their commendable zeal to raise money for early education, they raise too many troublesome side issues, incurring opposition from a wide range of education organizations, medical researchers, health care advocates and politicians. The proposal even incurs opposition from both anti-abortion and pro-abortion-rights interests.

In competing columns appearing in our edition last Sunday, longtime early education advocate Jack Jensen squared off against Ron Leone, the executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. Leone’s group generally opposes tax increases on motor fuel and tobacco, an obviously selfish position that is understandable given its narrow economic interests, but on this issue he successfully outlines the larger case against ratification of Amendment 3.

Major tobacco firms are the primary funding agencies behind the initiative. Not only does the amendment include catch-up taxation of competing, smaller off-brand cigarettes left out of earlier tobacco settlement provisions; it specifically forbids use of funds for “tobacco-related research of any kind.”

Amendment 3 allows tax money to go to private or religious schools, otherwise prohibited in the Constitution. It restricts use of money for stem cell research, treatment and cures. It incorporates an annual automatic tax increase for four years and has incurred the opposition of more than a hundred state legislators and both gubernatorial candidates.

As a general proposition, enacting a particular tax increase of this kind by amending the constitution is not a good idea. I can sympathize with proponents frustrated with the inaction of state legislators, but when they suggest enacting tax increases by way of constitutional amendment, they should at least make the language simple and entirely to the point. Amendment 3 has too many troublesome ancillary implications. A “clean” tobacco tax increase would have more public purchase. Missouri’s is the lowest cigarette tax in the nation, and our spending is in the bottom 25 percent. But given the substantial opposition that has arisen, I doubt Amendment 3 will pass.

I plan to vote “No” and continue to work for a better way to increase early education. Missouri is behind most states in funding. We should do better.

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Our view: Tobacco proposals too toxic

Joplin Globe: Editorial Board October 16, 2016

Remember the Joe Camel campaign and those rugged Marlboro ads?

Both were cynical attempts by tobacco companies to manipulate the public — kids and adults — into doing something foolish.

Amendment 3 and Proposition A, two cigarette tax proposals, will be on the November ballot in Missouri, and each is similarly cynical and equally manipulative.

Everything you need to know about them is revealed by this fact: Both proposals are supported by various tobacco companies, though each of the companies has its own agenda.

You don’t have to be neck deep in Table Rock Lake to know that something smells fishy.

It turns out that both plans play Missouri voters for fools.

Amendment 3 will raise the tax on cigarettes by 15 cents per pack for four consecutive years, for a total of 60 cents, with the money to fund early childhood education and health initiatives; Proposition A would raise the tax by 23 cents per pack, also to be phased in over several years, to fund Missouri transportation.

Yet neither proposal has the support of the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association of Missouri or similar organizations.

Isn’t that odd?

It turns out, these groups issued a joint statement opposing the ballot initiatives, saying: “Voters should be alarmed that those who profit from keeping smokers addicted have hijacked worthwhile causes by forcing Missourians to settle for a paltry increase in the tobacco tax that will not deter smoking.”

Missouri right now has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation, at 17 cents per pack. There’s no doubt it needs raised, but those groups that want to deter smoking say a tax increase of $1 or more is needed.

Both Amendment 3 and Proposition A raise the tax per pack gradually and in such a way that the increases can be negated by tobacco companies, offset by coupons, discounts or other company incentives.

“Tobacco taxes work when the price increase is substantial enough to motivate current smokers to quit and prevent kids from starting. A dime here or there is not sufficient,” the opponents say.

And as you might expect with something being foisted off on us by tobacco companies, these proposals have some toxic provisions:

  • Amendment 3 is written in such a way that none of the money collected from the tax can be used for tobacco-related research of any kind.
  • Proposition A has language that says the 23-cent tax increase would be repealed if any city or county in Missouri on if the state merely attempts to put any other tobacco tax or fee on a local or statewide ballot. Mind you, the issue doesn’t have to pass; it only has to be certified for the ballot.

There are numerous other poisonous provisions in the proposals, too.

In the same way that the Marlboro Man tried to get Americans to buy cigarettes, these two plans are trying to get us to buy into the goals and agenda of tobacco companies. All you need to remember when you’re wondering if you can trust tobacco companies is that many of the rugged Marlboro models rode off into the sunset with oxygen tanks strapped to their saddlebags.

Let’s let lawmakers come back with a solid plan to raise taxes at least $1 a pack — still lower than more than half the other states — and split the money between transportation and education, with no poison pill provisions or fine print of any kind.

Until then, “No” on Amendment 3, “No” on Proposition A.

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Critics challenge dueling cigaratte tax proposals on November ballot

By Crystal Thomas | October 16, 2016

A ballot initiative known as Amendment 3 will ask Missouri voters a seemingly simple question when they go to the polls next month: Will they change the state’s Constitution to raise the cigarette tax to generate revenue for early childhood health and education?

A competing proposal, known as Proposition A, also will be on the November ballot in the state. It will ask voters for a smaller cigarette tax increase, although it will not require amending the Constitution. That money would be used for state transportation projects.

Advocates of each of these dueling proposals have turned their fire toward the other, claiming their opponent’s plan is not as straightforward as it seems.

Meanwhile, outside groups, including the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, are critical of both.

There’s yet a third group that also is looking askance at the proposals: Missouri smokers.

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, more than 22 percent of adult Missourians smoke — one of the highest rates in the country.

Robin Fjelstad, of Goodman, said she doesn’t think the tax should be raised for either education or transportation.

“The people who smoke are going to pay to educate your children?” Fjelstad said. “How is that fair? What if they don’t have children?”

She also said she would rather see a use tax, such as a fuel tax, in Missouri to help fund road and bridge repairs.

Amendment 3

Right now, Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax in the country, at 17 cents per pack, and it’s 47th in funding for early childhood education and health initiatives. Amendment 3, if passed, would raise the cigarette tax incrementally by 15 cents each year for the next four years.

By 2020, state taxes on a pack would be 77 cents, still less than any of Missouri’s surrounding states, and less than half the average of the tobacco taxes charged by all other states, which is $1.65 per pack, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

When fully implemented, it would raise about $305 million annually. The money would be divvied up based on the percentage of 4-year-olds in each Missouri county, compared with the rest of the state. Public, private and religious schools and organizations could apply for grants from a commission that would be appointed to oversee the funds.

The amendment breaks down how the money will be spent: 75 percent for early childhood education, 10 to 15 percent for early childhood health and development, and 5 to 10 percent for pregnant mothers and youth smoking cessation, with no more than 3 percent for administrative expenses.

According to estimates provided by proponents, Jasper County programs could share in about $7 million of the Amendment 3 proceeds per year.In one year, Newton County could possibly receive about $3 million.

Proposition A

Ron Leone, executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, has noted that while his group has opposed tax increases on cigarettes in the past, including a 90-cent increase proposed in 2012, they are pushing the plan to raise the tax from 17 cents to 40 cents per pack by 2021.

“We were sick and tired of being on defense every year with an outrageous tax increase,” he said, adding that Proposition A is an attempt to “take control of our own fate.”

He said the goal was to “put the issue to bed for the foreseeable future,” meaning that if Proposition A passed there might not be another attempt to raise the tax for a while.

Leone said the tax they are proposing could raise $100 million annually for transportation, which he said would benefit all Missourians.

But, he added, the MPCA is more concerned with making sure the 60-cent increase is not passed rather than advancing its own measure.

“Our priority is completely and utterly focused on defeating Amendment 3,” he added.

But critics, including those pushing Amendment 3, said Proposition A has a “poison pill” clause that states that if any political subdivision in Missouri, including a city or county, were to propose a tobacco tax increase, the 23-cent state tax increase would cease to exist, regardless of whether that proposal is approved by voters.

Big vs. Small Tobacco

Those groups that are lined up against both proposals, such as the American Heart Association, charge that each of the proposals on the ballot next month plunges Missouri into an 18-year-long fight between big tobacco companies and their smaller competitors.

Amendment 3 is powered by three groups: Raise Your Hands 4 Kids, Vote Yes on 3 For Kids and the Early Childhood Education Initiative. All are being bankrolled by Reynolds American Inc., which owns some of largest tobacco companies in the world and whose brands include Newport, Camel and Pall Mall. Reynolds, based in North Carolina, has contributed $10 million to its three advocacy groups so far, according to Missouri Ethics Commission reports.

Supporting a tobacco tax increase is a first for the company, Bryan Hatchell, Reynolds spokesman, told the Globe via email.

One reason? He said Amendment 3 would also charge off-brand cigarette manufacturers (smaller tobacco companies) an initial 67 cents per pack (on top of the 60-cent tax) as an “equity assessment” fee, which would help “level the playing field” with the larger companies such as Reynolds. That fee would rise with inflation.

In 1998, Reynolds was part of what is known as the Master Settlement Agreement, in which large tobacco companies agreed to make payments to 46 states indefinitely based on the sales of cigarettes. The payments were the result of years of lawsuits and are supposed to offset the health costs borne by those states because of smoking.

Manufacturers that didn’t participate in the settlement because they didn’t exist then or were smaller still had to pay into a 25-year escrow to states, so that they didn’t have a marketplace advantage. But because of a language loophole in the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, smaller tobacco companies that concentrated their sales in only a few states rather than nationally were able to get all their escrow payments back as soon as they made them while still obeying the law.

Missouri is the only state that has not fixed what’s known as the “allocable share” loophole, and that has affected the payments the state receives through the Master Settlement Agreement from Reynolds and other large tobacco companies.

Because of that, Missouri has been in arbitration with the tobacco companies that participated in the Master Settlement Agreement, which have argued that the state hasn’t done its part in collecting escrow payments from smaller tobacco companies and are asking for their payments from previous years to be adjusted. In 2014, the tobacco companies won back $70 million from Missouri because the General Assembly failed to fix the loophole through legislation, which was one of the conditions of the settlement the companies reached with the state attorney general.

This year, the same happened. The General Assembly had a deadline to close the loophole, which would allow the state to recoup $50 million and forego arbitration for 10 years’ worth of payments. The General Assembly didn’t close the loophole, the deadline passed and the attorney general’s office has appealed the case.

Nanci Gonder, the attorney general’s spokeswoman, said Amendment 3 would not have an impact on recouping the $50 million. She said the office hasn’t had any official communication with the tobacco companies about the amendment.

“Constitutional Amendment 3’s effect on future litigation related to the Master Settlement Agreement is unclear,” Gonder wrote in an email.

When asked via email if passing Amendment 3 would satisfy the allocable share loophole and avoid future litigation in Missouri, Reynolds officials did not comment.

The amendment would not change the statutory language, but force smaller tobacco manufacturers to pay about the same amount as if the loophole didn’t exist.

Those smaller tobacco companies, meanwhile, have helped fund the Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, a group that includes cigarette vendors. It has helped defeat every single tobacco tax increase since 2002. This year, MPCA also sued to keep Amendment 3 off the ballot, but lost.

So Missouri finds itself in the position of having two competing cigarette tax proposals on the ballot, each backed by tobacco companies that are at odds with each other.

‘Not sufficient’

A coalition of health groups, including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association in Missouri, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and other groups, said both measures are inadequate. Neither measure meets their test for such a proposal: deterring smoking.

That’s because both increases would be phased in gradually, and could be “blunted” and “negated” by coupons and rebates or other incentives offered by tobacco companies to offset the increases and keep people smoking, said Kevin Walker, regional vice president with the American Heart Association. He said it would take a tax increase of $1 or $1.50 per pack implemented all at once to deter smoking.

Walker noted that if either tax increase is approved, voters will most likely shy away from doing so again any time in the near future.

In a statement, the health organizations said: “Voters should be alarmed that those who profit from keeping smokers addicted have hijacked worthwhile causes by forcing Missourians to settle for a paltry increase in the tobacco tax that will not deter smoking.

“Tobacco taxes work when the price increase is substantial enough to motivate current smokers to quit and prevent kids from starting. A dime here or there is not sufficient. Tobacco companies are experts at finding ways to absorb small tax increases through adjusted pricing.”

About raising revenue

But Jack Cardetti, a spokesman with Vote Yes On 3 for Kids, said last week during a visit to Joplin that one of the strengths of Amendment 3 is its spending on smoking cessation programs for pregnant mothers. He said that about one in six Missouri mothers currently smokes while pregnant.

Healthy mothers would give birth to babies who would then have better funded education and health opportunities supported by Amendment 3 revenue, Cardetti said.

Responding to criticism from the health organizations, Miles Ross, another Vote Yes on 3 spokesman, also noted during the Joplin stop that proponents never said the 60-cent increase was aimed at changing the behavior of smokers.

“Any sales tax was always about raising revenue,” Ross said. “Only in recent history has tobacco tax turned into a smoking cessation tax.”

Ross argued the amount of the increase is what proponents thought voters would think was pragmatic — something that would be supported while also raising enough money to make a meaningful difference.

Education benefits

Cardetti said the advantage of a constitutional amendment over a statute is that its funding would be harder to supplant and would remain dedicated to early childhood education.

He also said that even if early childhood education programs had to solely rely on the cigarette tax proceeds, Missourians wouldn’t miss the level of funding early childhood education currently receives from the Missouri General Assembly.

According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, about $30 million was spent on the state’s Parents as Teachers and preschool programs this year. The same amount was spent last year and about $31 million was spent the year before that. Back in 2007, funding had been at about $48 million.

Missouri Child Care Aware, a nonprofit that helps Missourians gain access to child care providers and early educators, has come out in favor of Amendment 3.

With access to education programs before kindergarten, students don’t have to bridge an achievement gap. Also, studies have shown that educating students before age 5 has long-term benefits, like making the child much more likely to finish high school and avoid brushes with the law, according to proponents.

Though those studies are cited on the National Education Association’s website, its Missouri chapter has been a vocal opponent of Amendment 3. Its legislative director, Otto Fajen, said the current proposal would be a “train wreck.”

“Do you want an unelected state commission to be stuck trying to oversee a gazillion organizations all over the state?” Fajen said.

He argued that since the funding wouldn’t necessarily be handled by a school board, which is an elected body, there isn’t any accountability, nor a local framework for the grants to go through. Plus, he predicted the commissioners who would be named to oversee the revenue raised by Amendment 3 would not have the resources to be able to vet the quality of each program and make sure the funds were used appropriately.

Some educational groups also have said they don’t like the fact that the amendment would allow private and religious entities to access the tax dollars, too, but Fajen said that was not the main motivation for their opposition.

“We are all concerned that it’s putting a whole lot of junk in the Constitution,” he said.

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Cigarette taxes not all they seem

St. Joseph News-Press Opinion October 11, 2016

The politics of tobacco casts a long shadow over two tax proposals on the Nov. 8 ballot in Missouri.

Although both plans purport to do good for the state’s citizens, we recommend a “no” vote on both Constitutional Amendment 3 and Proposition A.

Missouri needs to do more to invest in early childhood education and health — the premise of Amendment 3 and its aspiration to raise about $300 million annually for these services. But opponents have identified a multitude of problems with this ballot language. They also raise valid concerns that tobacco giant Reynolds American has funneled millions of dollars into advancing this proposal.

If approved, the amendment would phase in an increase in the cigarette tax from 17 cents per pack to 77 cents by 2020. The state’s cigarette tax would remain less than half the national average.

The measure also would levy an additional 67-cent per pack increase on smaller tobacco companies, ending their price advantage and likely boosting the profits of bigger companies — such as Reynolds American.

Promoters of the amendment also allowed activists to insert language stating revenues may not be spent on stem cell research. This justifiably has brought a harsh response from those who see any restriction as a way to undermine the 2006 voter-approved amendment that aims to protect stem cell research in line with federal law.

The measure also, inexplicably, bars using revenues to provide abortion services. The stipulation is opposed by conservatives who object to including the word “abortion” in the Constitution and suspect a sinister motive.

Finally, the measure would prohibit funding of research on the harmful effects of smoking, including on the targeted group of young children, and would forbid groups that receive funding from advocating for further controls on tobacco products.

The second ballot proposal to raise cigarette taxes, Proposition A, is equally flawed.

Prop A would phase in an increase in the cigarette tax from 17 cents to 40 cents by 2021. The tax that sellers pay on other tobacco products would rise by 5 percent.

The tax would generate about $100 million annually to be dedicated to road and bridge maintenance — just a fraction of what is required.

In addition, the ballot language makes clear this is an all-or-nothing plan tilted to the advantage of cigarette retailers, not road improvements. The stipulated cigarette tax increase would be repealed “if a measure to increase any tax or fee on cigarettes” is certified to appear on any local or statewide ballot.

We need better roads, and more help for young children, but we can do better than both of these proposals.

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110 legislators join coalition to oppose troubling tobacco tax scheme.

Jefferson City – A large bipartisan coalition of state representatives and senators from across Missouri are encouraging voters to vote “No” on a controversial constitutional amendment that contains several troubling provisions.

Today, a total of 19 state senators and 91 state representatives announced their opposition to Amendment 3 and encouraged their constituents to oppose Big Tobacco’s scheme. The overwhelming legislative opposition puts the majority of Missouri lawmakers on the same side as many diverse organizations that have come out against Amendment 3 – including groups that historically supported tobacco taxes.

“Whether you’re Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, there is something in Amendment 3 for everyone and every group not to like,” said Ronald J. Leone, Executive Director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (MPCA).

Missouri State Senators Opposing Amendment 3

Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla

Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal, D-University City

Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville

Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar

Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby

Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City

Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit

Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown

Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis

Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar

Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin

Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington

Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville

Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph

Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan

Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale

Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur

Sen. Gina Walsh, D-St. Louis

Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial

Missouri State Representatives Opposing Amendment 3

Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann

Rep. Sonya Anderson, R-Springfield

Rep. Allen Andrews, R-Grant City

Rep. Kevin Austin, R-Springfield

Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-O’Fallon

Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport

Rep. Nathan Beard, R-Sedalia

Rep. Jack Bondon, R-Belton

Rep. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville

Rep. Wanda Brown, R-Lincoln

Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield

Rep. Bob Burns, D-St. Louis

Rep. Jason Chipman, R-Steelville

Rep. Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee’s Summit

Rep. Kathie Conway, R-St. Charles

Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Poplar Bluff

Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-St. Charles

Rep. Sandy Crawford, R-Buffalo

Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific

Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City

Rep. Dean Dohrman, R-La Monte

Rep. J Eggleston, R-Maysville

Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington

Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob

Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit

Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage

Rep. Lyndall Fraker, R-Marshfield

Rep. Diane Franklin, R-Camdenton

Rep. Keith Frederick, R-Rolla

Rep. Elaine Gannon, R-DeSoto

Rep. Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield

Rep. Marsha Haefner, R-St. Louis

Rep. Galen Higdon, R-St. Joseph

Rep. Justin Hill, R-Lake St. Louis

Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair

Rep. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg

Rep. Jay Houghton, R-Mexico

Rep. Tila Hubrecht, R-Dexter

Rep. Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis

Rep. Tom Hurst, R-Meta

Rep. Delus Johnson, R-St. Joseph

Rep. Caleb Jones, R-Columbia

Rep. Jeffery Justus, R-Branson

Rep. Shelley Keeney Taylor, R-Marble Hill

Rep. Mike Kelley, R-Lamar

Rep. Bill Kidd, R-Independence

Rep. S. Nick King, R-Liberty

Rep. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester

Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer, R-Odessa

Rep. Bart Korman, R-High Hill

Rep. Mike Leara, R-St. Louis

Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson

Rep. Warren Love, R-Osceola

Rep. Steve Lynch, R-Waynesville

Rep. Nick Marshall, R-Parkville

Rep. Kirk Mathews, R-Pacific

Rep. John McCaherty, R-High Ridge

Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis

Rep. Andrew McDaniel, R-Deering

Rep. Joe Don McGaugh, R-Carrollton

Rep. Jeffrey Messenger, R-Republic

Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Tuscumbia

Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove

Rep. Dave Muntzel, R-Boonville

Rep. Jim Neely, R-Cameron

Rep. Mark Parkinson, R-St. Charles

Rep. Joshua Peters, D-St. Louis

Rep. Don Phillips, R-Kimberling City

Rep. Tommie Pierson, D-St. Louis

Rep. Randy Pietzman, R-Troy

Rep. Craig Redmon, R-Canton

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston

Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho

Rep. Tim Remole, R-Excello

Rep. Shawn Rhoads, R-West Plains

Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff

Rep. Shane Roden, R-Cedar Hill

Rep. Rebecca Roeber, R-Lee’s Summit

Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville

Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon

Rep. Lyle Rowland, R-Cedarcreek

Rep. Lindell Shumake, R-Hannibal

Rep. Chrissy Sommer, R-St. Charles

Rep. Bryan Spencer, R-Wentzville

Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa

Rep. Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold

Rep. Nate Walker, R-Kirksville

Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin

Rep. John Wiemann, R-O’Fallon

Rep. Kenneth Wilson, R-Smithville

Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles

Organizations Opposing Amendment 3 Include:

American Cancer Society & Other Health Organizations. Amendment 3 is such a terrible idea that it’s opposed by health-care groups that typically support tobacco tax increases including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and Tobacco-Free Missouri.

►“Undoubtedly, it is profit – not public health – that is the true motivation behind the tobacco industry’s sudden support of such a small tax, and they should not be determining Missouri’s public health policy.” (3/2/16 Missouri Times).

►“R.J. Reynolds’ current campaign contributions totaling more than $3 million in support of a tobacco tax proposal are unprecedented. Reynolds, best known for their infamous Joe Camel cartoon, is notorious for its aggressive efforts to lure kids into smoking. Missouri voters shouldn’t let the tobacco industry write policies that ultimately keep our state’s youth hooked on these deadly products.” (8/9/16 joint statement).

Teacher & Education Groups.Amendment 3 is opposed by the Missouri National Education Association (MNEA), the Missouri Retired Teachers Association, and the Missouri Association of Rural Education because it allows unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats to give public tax dollars to private schools without adequate oversight and quality control.

►“Charles E. Smith, an English teacher and President of the Missouri National Education Association (MNEA), announced the 35,000 educators of the MNEA will oppose the Raise Your Hand for Kids (RYH4K) constitutional amendment.

“The stakes for children are simply too high to overlook the constitutional amendment’s shortcomings,” said Smith. “The amendment permits public tax dollars to fund programs at elite private or religious schools. It lacks strong oversight and it places all decisions in the hands of an unelected commission a majority of whom do not have a background in education.” (5/25/16 MNEA News Release).

Medical Research Groups.Amendment 3 is opposed by the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, BioSTL, Washington University in St. Louis, We Deserve Better, MOBIO and Missouri Cures because it is anti-science and anti-research in that it restricts promising stem cell medical research, treatment and cures.

Why would Amendment 3’s tax increase for “early childhood education” ever need to include the terms “human cloning” and “embryonic stem cells”?

►“Missouri Cures has consistently stood against attempts to undermine the research-friendly environment guaranteed by the amendment that voters passed a decade ago….As long as the RYH4K ballot initiative contains words that hamstring innovation and stifle the search for better medical treatments, Missouri Cures will stand opposed.” (3/11/16 St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

Pro Life and Conservative Organizations. For the first time ever, Amendment 3 is attempting to put the terms “abortion” and “abortion services” in the Missouri Constitution. Why would Big Tobacco’s tax increase for “early childhood education” ever need to include the terms “abortion” and “abortion services”?

Amendment 3 is opposed by conservative groups such as Concerned Women for America of Missouri, Missouri Alliance for Freedom and United for Missouri.

►Bev Ehlen, Missouri State Director, Concerned Women for America: “I believe placing abortions of any type in the Missouri Constitution for an effort to provide more funds to early childhood education in the state is problematic in many ways.” (3/29/16).

Newspaper Editorial Boards. St. Louis Post-Dispatch (4/25/16), Columbia Daily Tribune (4/29/16).

Paid for by the Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association (MPCA) PAC, Ronald J. Leone, Treasurer.

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Learn more about the tobacco tax initiative; What It Says, What It Does – CLICK HERE

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Putting Profits Before Kids, Tobacco Companies Spend Big to Deceive Voters and Fight State Ballot
Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — This November, voters in California, Colorado and North Dakota will have the opportunity to protect children from tobacco addiction and save lives by approving ballot initiatives that increase state tobacco taxes in a meaningful way. To do so, however, voters will need to reject multi-million dollar campaigns tobacco companies are waging to deceive them and defeat these measures.

The tobacco companies’ opposition to these initiatives shows the industry hasn’t changed and can’t be taken seriously when they say they don’t want kids to smoke. The companies are fighting these initiatives for one simple reason: They know that a significant increase in the tobacco tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids. The huge sums they are spending against these initiatives represent an investment to preserve the pipeline of kids the industry needs to survive.

In California, tobacco companies, led by Altria/Philip Morris and Reynolds American/R.J. Reynolds, have already poured over $37 million to defeat an initiative (Prop 56) to raise the state cigarette tax by $2 per pack and no doubt will spend much more to wage their disinformation campaign.

In Colorado, the industry is preparing to spend millions to defeat a ballot measure to raise the tobacco tax by $1.75 per pack.

In North Dakota, Altria and Reynolds American/R.J. Reynolds have dumped more than $860,000 to fight the proposed $1.76 tobacco tax increase, dwarfing the amount raised by proponents.

Of course, the tobacco companies hide the real reason for their opposition behind front groups and deceptive arguments. In California, the companies are trying to mislead voters into thinking the Prop 56 opposition comprises a broad “Coalition of Taxpayers, Educators, Healthcare Professionals, Law Enforcement, Labor, and Small Businesses,” as the group has dubbed its campaign. But, no, it’s the top three tobacco companies, especially Altria and Reynolds, entirely funding the effort. One industry ad charges Prop 56 with “cheating” schools of funding, a claim that has been thoroughly debunked by PolitiFact California, The Sacramento Bee and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The industry even claims the California and Colorado initiatives do not dedicate enough money to programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. These initiatives do provide robust funding for such programs, and it is laughable that tobacco companies would profess concern for funding programs to reduce tobacco use given everything they do to hook kids and keep smokers from quitting.

The industry’s hypocrisy is underscored by the fact that Reynolds American is supporting a small and ineffective tobacco tax increase in Missouri that would provide far less for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The tobacco companies don’t care one bit about funding tobacco prevention efforts. What they do care about is defeating tobacco tax increases or limiting them to such small amounts that they won’t reduce smoking, can be easily countered with the company’s price discounts and don’t hurt the companies’ bottom line. That’s why Reynolds is spending nearly $3 million to support the Missouri initiative – it increases the cigarette tax by just 15 cents a year for four years and heads off the possibility of a larger increase that actually reduces smoking. Missouri would still have one of the lowest cigarette taxes in the country.

By fighting the California, Colorado and North Dakota initiatives – while bankrolling the counterproductive Missouri measure – the tobacco companies once again are protecting their profits at the expense of kids and lives. Voters across the country should reject the industry’s lies and support genuine efforts to protect children from tobacco addiction and save lives.

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Missouri Cures Statement on Big Tobacco Ballot Certification

 Aug. 9, 2016 – ST. LOUIS – Missouri Cures stands in opposition to North Carolina-based Big Tobacco’s proposed amendment to change Missouri’s Constitution being certified for the November statewide ballot and remains hopeful that pending litigation will stop this hijacked measure from progressing.

Meanwhile, we will continue working to get the facts to voters about the damaging consequences that the proposed amendment holds for patients and medical researchers if it were to become part of our state’s Constitution.

Anti-research activists were knowingly allowed by the group Raise Your Hand for Kids that is promoting measure to insert language that has the sole purpose and legal effect of creating a conflict with our Constitution’s unambiguous position on stem cell research. It would open the door for anti-science legislation and other tactics in the General Assembly aimed at creating a chilling effect on research. Such legislation could lead to costly and divisive litigation with unpredictable outcomes, threaten the progress of cures and therapies and destabilize our state’s science-friendly environment.

In addition to Missouri Cures, those publicly opposing the initiative are: American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Missouri, BioSTL, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Concerned Women for America, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Missouri Family Network, MOBIO, Missouri Association of Rural Education, Missouri National Education Association, Missouri Retired Teachers Association, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Tobacco-Free Missouri, Washington University in St. Louis and We Deserve Better.

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Monday deadline looms for tobacco-tax backers to appeal devastating court ruling

By JO MANNIES  Sunday, July 10, 2016 – St. Louis Public Radio

Backers of a ballot proposal to increase Missouri’s tobacco tax apparently have only until 4 p.m. Monday to seek a rehearing or an appeal of a court ruling that otherwise would keep the measure off the November ballot.

A state appeals court ruled Friday that the ballot summary for the proposed constitutional amendment was  “unfair, insufficient and likely to mislead voters.”

A coalition called Raise Your Hand for Kids is proposing a tax hike of as much as $1.27 on each pack of cigarettes to pay for health care and education programs for children. The parent company for tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds has bankrolled most of the campaign.

The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District, which issued Friday’s ruling, also rewrote the summary. However, that action – if it withstands any appeal — would result in tossing out more than 300,000 signatures that Raise Your Hand for Kids had submitted to secretary of state’s office.

State law requires that initiative petitions have the correct ballot summary. It’s well past the deadline for the group to collect new signatures with a revised summary.

Critics of the measure have been attacking Raise Your Hand for Kids for months over controversial provisions, including one that would allow the new income raised to go to private or parochial schools.

Some of the original backers, including some public-education groups, have withdrawn their support – in part because of concern that RJ Reynolds has provided most of the money for the campaign.

Tobacco company’s support raises concerns

The ballot proposal calls for increasing Missouri’s tobacco tax – now the nation’s lowest, at 17 cents a pack – by 60 cents a pack to pay for the proposed programs. However, it also would add an additional 67-cent-a-pack tax on cigarettes produced by small tobacco companies that have eluded payments that the large tobacco companies have made to 46 states, including Missouri, as part of a 1998 court settlement.

That settlement stems from a suit by states against the larger tobacco companies to recover some of the governments’  tobacco-related health-care costs tied to their Medicaid programs, which provide health care to the poor.

Backers and RJ Reynolds have acknowledged that the tobacco giant had sought the provision in the initiative.

In recent weeks, the Raise Your Hand for Kids campaign also has retooled its operation and revamped the deployment of some key backers, such as longtime spokeswoman Linda Rallo.

The court fight doesn’t affect a separate initiative proposal which calls for a 23-cent-a-pack hike in Missouri’s tobacco tax to provide money for the state’s transportation needs.  That proposal is largely backed by the smaller tobacco companies that would be affected by the Raise Your Hand For Kids higher tax.

The Missouri secretary of state’s office has yet to announce whether either tobacco-tax proposal has met the signature qualifications to get on the Nov. 8ballot.

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Court ordered changes create uncertain future for early childhood education initiative

By RUDI KELLER 
Sunday, July 10, 2016 at 12:00 am

 An appeals court order to change the ballot language for a proposed increase in Missouri cigarette taxes will mean a fast legal scramble next week if supporters want to keep the initiative alive.

Late Friday, the Western District Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that five words should be added to the language describing the taxes imposed and the programs supported by the Raise Your Hand for Kids initiative. The ruling overturned an order issued in May by Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green that the descriptive language met legal standards but a section describing the financial impact did not.

In the unanimous opinion of the three-judge panel, written by Judge Alok Ahuja, the appeals court ruled that the financial impact was adequately summarized.

The court ordered any requests for review of its ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court should be filed by Monday afternoon, said attorney Chuck Hatfield, who represented opponents challenging the initiative. And because a law passed in 2015 limits court action on challenges to 180 days, any review must be completed by Wednesday, he said.

“There are still a few chess pieces to move here, but they lost their queen,” Hatfield said. “Is it possible they could turn this all around? It is possible.”

No court has ever prevented a vote on an initiative that had enough valid signatures to make the ballot, James Harris, spokesman for Raise Your Hand for Kids wrote in an email.

“We plan to review the opinion and file the appropriate appeal so that a higher court can clear the way for this initiative to appear on the November ballot,” he wrote. “More importantly, we look forward to taking our campaign for early childhood education to every corner of the state this fall.”

Raise Your Hand for Kids turned in about 330,000 signatures in an effort to place a 60-cents per pack increase in cigarette taxes on the November ballot.

The measure includes a surcharge on brands from small tobacco companies that starts at 67 cents a pack to bring prices in line with major brands that participated in a 1998 national settlement of state claims against tobacco makers.

The language describing the surcharge must be changed, Ahuja wrote. Because the surcharge would increase by at least 3 percent per year, “we believe that adding the phrase ‘which fee shall increase annually’ to the second bullet point will adequately advise voters that the equity assessment fee will be subject to mandatory annual increases, while modifying the Secretary of State’s language in the most limited fashion possible.”

Initiatives filed in early May are being checked and Secretary of State Jason Kander must tell local election authorities by Aug. 9 what will be included on the November ballot.

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AC2E0D42-A693-4E47-B47E-0139239832FA

For Immediate Release: July 09, 2016   
Contact:
 Dena Ladd, Executive Director, (314) 422-2834, dladd@missouricures.org

Missouri Cures Statement on Missouri Court of Appeals Ruling

 ST. LOUIS – We stand in strong support of the Missouri Court of Appeals decision that the ballot summary for Big Tobacco’s proposed amendment is insufficient and unfair.

Big Tobacco, which is the biggest funder and the biggest benefactor of this campaign, should abandon its court fight and the flawed initiative.

The consequences of this measure if it were to become part of our state’s Constitution would be quite damaging for patients and medical researchers. Anti-research activists inserted language into the initiative that has the sole purpose and legal effect of creating a conflict with our Constitution’s unambiguous position on stem cell research. It would open the door for anti-science legislation and other tactics in the General Assembly aimed at creating a chilling effect on research. Such legislation could lead to costly and divisive litigation with unpredictable outcomes, threaten the progress of cures and therapies and destabilize our science-friendly environment.

Missouri Cures is not alone in its concerns. Education, public health and patient groups – each with its own set of concerns – publicly oppose the hijacked initiative.

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Paid for by Missouri Cures, Dena Ladd, Executive Director, P.O. Box 16580, St. Louis, MO 63105

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Early childhood IP summary rewritten by appeals judge

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The early childhood initiative petition (IP) language was again changed this evening, as the Court of Appeals overturned the circuit court decision from May to vacate the fiscal note.

Judge Alok Ahuja signed an opinion deeming the fiscal note as fair and sufficient, but declaring the summary statement, which signatories of the IP signed below, as unfair and insufficient. The new language is certified to the Secretary of State.

The new language reads as follows:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

  • increase taxes on cigarettes each year through 2020, at which point this additional tax will total 60 cents per pack of 20;
  • create a fee paid by cigarette wholesalers of 67 cents per pack of 20 on certain cigarettes, which fee shall increase annually; and
  • deposit funds generated by these taxes and fees into a newly established Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund?

This is the fourth time an IP’s summary has been rewritten; the Secretary of State and General Assembly have also rewrote the language.

The next step in the appeals process is the Missouri Supreme Court, which has until Wednesday, July 13 to rule. Legal experts declare the short timeline for appeal unlikely to occur due to the need to transfer the case.

Raise Your Hands for Kids is backing the petition, and spokesman James Harris stands by the IP as a much needed fix to the early childhood system in Missouri.

Earlier this year more than 330,000 Missourians signed the early childhood education initiative petition because they wanted voters to decide if Missouri should finally start investing in our children’s future,” said Harris. “For a generation, politicians in Jefferson City have failed to adequately fund a system of early childhood education, which has harmed our kids at a critical time in their personal and academic development.

More than 330,000 Missourians saw this initiative petition, which raises Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax to provide long overdue funding for early childhood education, as our opportunity to right this wrong and begin to train our workforce of the future. Early childhood education has been proven to help reduce crime, strengthen the economy, and reduce future government spending. This initiative is Missouri’s only change to immediately begin providing our children and families with the educational opportunities they need and deserve.

Our opponents continue to push in court to overturn the will of these 330,000 Missourians and prevent a robust system of early childhood education,” said Harris. “While we respectfully disagree with the opinion of the court today as to the ballot summary, we recognize that never in Missouri’s history have the courts prevented a campaign that obtained the required amount of signatures from making the ballot due to a ballot title or fiscal note challenge. Therefore, we plan to review the opinion and file the appropriate appeal so that a higher court can clear the way for this initiative to appear on the November ballot. More importantly, we look forward to taking our campaign for early childhood education to every corner of the state this fall. Now is the time to make a real difference in the lives of Missouri’s children.”

However, IP opponents, the Missouri Petroleum and Convenience Store Marketers Association (MPCA) cried foul.

“The Missouri Court of Appeals-Western District has rendered a clear and correct decision that the ballot description of Big Tobacco’s proposed amendment is unfair, insufficient and likely to mislead voters,” said MPCA Executive Director Ron Leone. “This unfair, insufficient and misleading ballot summary is on every petition Big Tobacco asked voters to sign. The appeals court’s ruling is so decisive that Secretary of State Jason Kander should immediately direct local election authorities to halt the signature verification process on the fundamentally flawed petitions. And Big Tobacco, which put Joe Camel’s nose and entire hump under the tent to hijack this proposal, should now fold its tent, end the campaign, and leave the state.”

Read the full opinion: http://bit.ly/29yyDJY

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Early Childhood Education Initiative announces $5 million ad campaign

June 30, 2016 – The Missouri Times – by Tim Curtis – JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s airwaves are about to get a little more crowded during a busy campaign season. The Early Childhood Education Initiative will spend more than $5 million to promote a November ballot initiative that would fund early childhood education by raising tobacco taxes, the committee announced.

The campaign’s announcement signals an intent to focus on the educational benefits of funding early childhood education.

“This initiative will provide long-overdue, guaranteed funding for early childhood education, and ensure that Jefferson City politicians won’t be able to get their hands on it. This is money that will go straight to our classrooms and our students,” said Jack Cardetti, a consultant for the committee.

The campaign is refocusing on Missouri’s lack of resources for early childhood education, especially compared to surrounding states. They say that just 3 percent of Missouri four-year-olds are enrolled early childhood education programs that receive state-funding. In Iowa, that number is 60 percent, while it climbs to 76 percent in Oklahoma.

“Missouri lags the nation in providing early childhood education for our children — education that is crucial to reducing crime and growing Missouri’s economy,” said Erin Brower, the chairwoman of the RYH4K board. “Now is the time to make this critical investment before another generation of students enter Missouri classrooms unprepared to learn.”

The announcement comes as the beleaguered campaign for the ballot measure reorganizes with a little more than four months before the November election.

Since the initiative turned in enough signatures to get onto the November ballot, it has been attacked from numerous angles by a well-organized opposition campaign.

The Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (MPCA) went to court and had the measure’s fiscal note vacated. Numerous education groups, presumed natural allies of the campaign, have publicly opposed it because of concerns about the tax possibly funding private education.

The campaign is fighting back against the MPCA, which has a competing initiative awaiting approval that would also raise the tobacco tax. The campaign said in its press release that “the group told members that the initiative would, ‘… significantly decrease your tobacco sales and profit margins.’”

“$5 million is not going to change the fact that if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig. This is about Big Tobacco shamefully using kids to hurt their competition and gain market share”, said Ronald J. Leone, executive director of the MPCA.

Earlier this week, Raise Your Hand for Kids (RYH4K), a committee campaigning for the measure, reorganized their campaign.

The ballot measure has also been criticized for being funded mostly by cigarette company RJ Reynolds and other critics say the measure stigmatizes stem cell research.

While the campaign hopes to keep the focus on the education benefits of the ballot initiative, they are hurt by public opposition from education groups like the Missouri Association of Rural Education, Missouri National Education Association and the Missouri Retired Teachers Association.

Despite those groups, the campaign still cites support from the Missouri School Boards’ Association, the Missouri State NAACP, the Missouri Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators, the Missouri PTA, the March of Dimes and SSM Health Care.

The Secretary of State’s office is still certifying the signatures for the ballot. The campaign says opponents are trying to throw out the signatures, but the campaign does not believe there is a chance of that happening.

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RYH4K prepare for final stage on tobacco tax ballot measure

June 27, 2016 – The Missouri Times – by Travis Zimpfer – JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Raise Your Hands for Kids (RHY4K) has announced they will enter the fourth and final phase of their ballot measure that would raise the cigarette tax to better fund early childhood education.

In a letter to supporters over the weekend, Erin Brower, the chairwoman of the RYH4K board, said that the the effort to support the ballot measure was “in the home stretch” with just a few months left before it is voted upon in November.

“With this new phase we will have some changes, as we start gearing up for more direct voter contact,” said. “What started out as three ‘nobodies’ traveling around Missouri in a Honda with a big RYH4K sign, has turned into a statewide coalition of parents, educators, health care workers and business leaders who have put politics aside and chosen to invest in children.”

However, with the announcement came news that RYH4K executive director Linda Rallo will no longer spearhead the effort and that her role as executive director has come to an end.

“We never could have made it this far without the heart and strength of Linda,” Brower said. “She has dedicated the past two and a half years of her life to ensuring RYH4K made it to the ballot. We are forever grateful for her dedication to Missouri’s children.”

Rallo will continue to work as the Missouri government affairs liaison for the Alliance for Childhood Education.

While the initiative-petition turned ballot measure garnered early support, it has attracted opposition in the past few months. Ron Leone, the executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, has been among the most vocal opponents to the measure.

The marketers also have submitted an initiative petition (IP) of their own that would increase the cigarette tax, but the revenue generated would fund transportation infrastructure, specifically highways.

“The overwhelming evidence is in the broad array of opposition groups that have sounded the alarms,” he said in a statement reacting to the RYH4K announcement. “This opposition will only grow as we get closer to the election. This flawed scheme’s inevitable rejection by voters will set back early childhood education by at least a decade. The proposal should be dropped and the campaign stopped.”

Others have spoken against the RYH4K measure from both sides of the political spectrum for various reasons. They include education organizations like Missouri National Education Association and the Missouri Association of Rural Education because they fear the money could go to private or religious schools, medical groups like the American Heart Association and American Lung Association in Missouri who are skeptical that cigarette company R.J. Reynolds is the largest funder of the ballot measure, and research organizations and institutions like Missouri Cures and Washington University who believe the petition stigmatizes stem-cell research.

Signatures for both IPs are pending approval for the ballot, currently undergoing signature verification.

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MRTA latest education organization to oppose RYH4K initiative petition

The Missouri Times – June 6, 2016 – JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.

The Missouri Retired Teachers Association and Public School Personnel (MRTA) became the latest education organization to come out against the Raise Your Hand For Kids (RYH4K) initiative petition (IP) that would close the cigarette tax loophole by raising cigarette taxes to fund early childhood education.

The MRTA board of directors voted unanimously Monday to oppose the tax increase, joining other education organizations against the ballot measure, including the Missouri National Education Association and the Missouri Association of Rural Education. The organization cited the measure’s language that could allow public funds to go to private schools as well as RYH4K’s funding from big tobacco.

“We join a host of other education groups throughout Missouri who oppose this dangerous plan to move public tax dollars to religious and private schools through a voucher program,” said Jim Kreider, MRTA’s executive director, in a statement. “If this battle sounds familiar, it is because we in the education community have been fighting this transfer of tax dollars to private schools for years.”

While the use of taxpayer dollars for early childhood education has been a frequent criticism by the groups opposing the measure, supports say it’s necessary because there aren’t enough public facilities currently equipped to handle pre-K.

“We don’t want to discriminate against districts that don’t have the ability to offer early childhood on their actual campus,” RYH4K executive director Linda Rallo previously told the Missouri Times. “If you only say that public schools get 100 percent of the money and there’s no ability to have a private partnership, then you’re really discriminating against the poorer school districts.”

Kreider also criticized how the money would be distributed, saying that appropriation of education funds was best left to the Missouri legislature, not the commission created by the ballot measure.

“The RYH4K initiative is extremely flawed in that it undermines the constitutional prohibition of tax dollars being distributed to religious and private schools and takes away the responsibility of the Missouri Legislature to manage and fund public education,” he said. “RYH4K creates a non-elected/appointed commission to manage and fund the Early Childhood Program with very little accountability, this creates a dangerous precedent for Missouri. Non-elected commissioners are not accountable to the voters and taxpayers of Missouri and may seek to promote their own private agendas.”

MRTA also echoed another frequent criticism of the RYH4K campaign, arguing that it was funded heavily by RAI, a big tobacco company.

“Big Tobacco Companies and Billionaires should not  be dictating the education of Missouri’s public school children.”  Kreider said.

In addition to the education groups coming out against the campaign, the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (MPCA), which supports a competing cigarette tax IP, has challenged the RYH4K ballot measure in court. Last month, the amendment’s fiscal note was vacated in circuit court.

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“What are we so concerned about”

June 1, 2016, by Donn Rubin

The 2016 Early Childhood Health and Education Amendment is a ballot initiative championed by a group called Raise Your Hand for Kids (RYH4K) to increase Missouri’s tobacco tax to support early childhood education and smoking cessation.  The initiative includes the following statement:  “No funds from the Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund shall be used for human cloning or research, clinical trials, or therapies or cures using human embryonic stem cells, as defined in Article III, section 38(d).”

The apparent intent of this language would be to prevent tobacco tax proceeds from funding stem cell research.  And since Missouri Cures has never sought taxpayer support for stem cell research, this language might seem innocuous on its face.  However, without this sentence, it is already clear that no tobacco proceeds could be used for stem cell research as the initiative clearly spells out the eligible uses of the funds, which include: early childhood education, early childhood health care, and smoking cessation programs.

The actual effect of the sentence if it were to become part of the Missouri Constitution would be quite damaging.  The constitutional ambiguity that it would create will open the door to significant harm to Missourian’s freedom to conduct stem cell research and would undermine the otherwise science-friendly climate in our state.

Since the passage in 2006 of the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Amendment, the Missouri Constitution speaks with a single, clear voice that all stem cell research permitted under federal law will be permitted in Missouri, and that legislative schemes aimed at creating a chilling effect on research will not be countenanced.   The current climate is safe for doctors and scientists who wish to participate in stem cell research.  Activist legislation in the General Assembly cannot threaten this freedom, and cannot create a dangerous chilling effect in our research institutions, as it does in some other states that do not have the same constitutional protections in place.  The 2006 amendment contains an important principle that stem cell research cannot be singled out in any way for detrimental treatment. This is an important principle that protects against legislative or administrative tactics that might otherwise circumvent the Constitution to limit the research.

The new language in the RYH4K initiative, if passed, would become part of the Missouri Constitution and would conflict with that important principle contained in the 2006 amendment. The constitution’s currently unambiguous voice protecting the freedom to conduct stem cell research would no longer be clear, but rather would be muddied by this subsequent, conflicting pronouncement.

The constitutional ambiguity introduced by the RYH4K language would open the door to legislative attempts to restrict research directly or to other tactics aimed at creating a chilling effect that currently would not pass muster under the Constitution’s unambiguous position on stem cell research.  In the best case, such legislation might be successfully blocked,  or it might lead to costly, divisive litigation with unpredictable outcomes, embarrassment to our state, and destabilizing of our science-friendly environment.

We have no doubt that this language is calculated to have precisely the impact described above by those who wish to do harm to our research freedoms.  We don’t necessarily believe that all proponents of the RYH4K ballot initiative share that intention.  However, proponents have allowed the ballot proposal to be used by anti-research activists.  It was on the fifteenth filing of the ballot proposal with the Secretary of State that changes were made that both added the harmful language and simultaneously converted a statutory initiative into a constitutional initiative. By their own internal memoranda, this new language was unnecessary and superfluous in achieving the stated goals of the initiative, i.e., to increase Missouri’s tobacco tax and to use the proceeds to fund early childhood education.  There was absolutely no reason to include language regarding stem cell research.  It’s only legal effect is to open the door for anti-research activists to pursue legislative and other strategies to ultimately achieve what they were not able to achieve in 2006 or since (through dozens of unsuccessful constitutional ballot initiatives of their own).  

This harmful and unrelated language should be removed from this initiative, which has nothing to do with medical research.

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St. Louis Business Journal logo

Stem cell research: Innovation momentum faces latest threat

May 13, 2016, 5:00am CDT
St. Louis’ innovation ecosystem has come a long way since 2001 when Dr. William Danforth founded BioSTL’s predecessor, the Coalition for Plant and Life Sciences, and invited me to join him on a journey to help create the underpinnings of a strong bioscience and innovation-driven economy.

At that time, St. Louis was the proud home to world-class universities and medical schools, as well as top-notch corporate R&D programs. But our region lacked infrastructure to support would-be entrepreneurs. Seeing St. Louis lose great ideas to the coasts, Dr. Danforth led a coalition of university, corporate and philanthropic leaders in building the foundational elements of a supportive and thriving ecosystem: a continuum of seed and venture capital, innovation districts (Cortex, BRDG Park), a diverse pool of talent, and a strong mechanism to transform ideas into investable startups (BioGenerator, BioSTL’s company creation and investment arm).

Many others have stepped up to add their own creativity and enthusiasm — from established civic leaders to energetic millennials, from lifelong St. Louisans to those brand-new to our community — to propel forward our new economy. St. Louis is now teeming with a healthy array of accelerators, incubators, investors and entrepreneur support organizations.
Donn_Rubin_2016
Donn Rubin

We still have gaps and much room to grow. But St. Louis’ positive transformation in the last decade is incontestable and validated by our recent success in attracting high-growth companies from Israel, Europe and South America.

Not listed above is one remaining, but critical, element of a thriving ecosystem — supportive public policy. Much of this forward motion would be impossible if St. Louis were seen as unwelcoming to innovation, creativity and scientific inquiry.

Many will recall a significant detour in our efforts a decade ago when, in the face of legislative threats to criminalize certain medical research, BioSTL co-founded Missouri Cures to pass a constitutional amendment to protect access for Missouri scientists, doctors and patients to stem cell research.

In 2006, voters passed the Missouri Stem Cell Amendment in a campaign that was widely covered in local and national media. Less known are the yearly battles in the legislature and courts to protect these gains. More than 40 ballot initiatives have been filed to overturn or diminish protections guaranteed by the 2006 amendment.

In the latest threat, anti-science opportunists are exploiting an unrelated ballot initiative that has a stated goal to increase Missouri’s tobacco tax to fund early childhood education. They inserted language that has the sole purpose and legal effect of creating a conflict with the Constitution’s unambiguous position on stem cell research. It would open the door for anti-science legislation and other tactics in the General Assembly aimed at creating a chilling effect on research. Such legislation could lead to costly and divisive litigation with unpredictable outcomes, bring embarrassment to our state and destabilize our science-friendly environment. For these reasons, BioSTL, Missouri Cures, Stowers Institute, Washington University, the statewide trade association MOBIO and many others publicly oppose this ballot initiative.

We must remain vigilant in order to ensure innovation continues to thrive and that St. Louis remains attractive to entrepreneurs, investors, and international companies. And this year, that means defeating the hijacked tobacco tax initiative.

Donn Rubin is president and CEO of BioSTL, and chairman of Missouri Cures.
© 2016 American City Business Journals. All rights reserved. See original entry at: http://bit.ly/1R14ehy

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Devil’s in the details for early childhood petition

By CHUCK GRAHAM Sunday, May 8, 2016 at 12:00 am 

Earlier this year, I was glad to sign a petition to put the Raise Your Hand For Kids constitutional amendment on the November ballot. After all, the proposal was aimed at helping early childhood education, a worthy mission.

That’s why I was dismayed to learn recently about the fine print in the RYH4K proposal — language that would undermine and stigmatize Missouri’s voter-approved constitutional protection for lifesaving medical research.
Chuck Graham
Chuck Graham

As a state senator, I successfully fought alongside Chris Koster to stop anti-research legislation, and we hoped that once we enshrined it in our constitution the fight would be over. That’s because protecting and nurturing lifesaving research is intensely personal for me.

I was paralyzed from the chest down in an automobile accident 35 years ago, and my brother was paralyzed from the neck down in a different accident 33 years ago. My mother had muscular dystrophy, as did one of my aunts and three of my uncles. Both of my parents died from cancer. I remain hopeful that this research will find treatments and cures for the conditions our family has struggled with as well as other life-threatening diseases.

While I might not see a cure or any improvement in my lifetime, I do believe it can and will happen thanks to lifesaving research, and when it happens, it will dramatically improve the lives of Missourians.

Missouri is fortunate to be the only state that protects research in its constitution. It helps us attract groundbreaking research and attract jobs and economic development. In a time when too often we follow other states in misguided efforts, this protection of research is a beacon of hope and prosperity we can and should brag about. We need to cherish and protect it.

As a former legislator, I’m usually the kind of person who reads the fine print on petitions, but I failed to do so this time. I didn’t think in a million years that RYH4K would include language changing another part of the constitution that I care so passionately about. Now, it’s clear that I and many others who support research were deceived about this anti-science Trojan Horse.

I encourage other people not to sign it and make the same mistake that I did.

And if the proposal makes the ballot, I will do all I can to encourage Missourians to vote “no” on this damaging proposal that would, in our constitution, undermine lifesaving research. We simply have too much to lose.

Chuck Graham is a former state senator representing Boone and Randolph counties.

© 2016 Columbia Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

See original post at: http://bit.ly/274A1tV

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The Tribune’s View – Early childhood education

Proposed initiative compromised

When the organization Raise Your Hands for Kids proposed a hefty increase in state tobacco taxes, the focus was entirely on generating money for early childhood education, a cause with a lot of support. But upon further examination, the initiative contains other provisions that make it unacceptable.

To assuage R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the group’s primary donor, the proposed constitutional amendment forbids use of the new funds for “tobacco-related research of any kind.”

The language says the new tax money can’t be used for “human cloning or research, clinical trials, or therapies or cures using human embryonic stem cells” and specifically obviates the lifesaving cures amendment added to the Missouri Constitution by voters in 2006.

Finally, the amendment would allow money raised by the new taxes to be used by early childhood programs in private religious schools. To get around current provisions of the state constitution, the proposal says, “Distribution of funds under this amendment shall not be limited or prohibited by the provisions of” the particular sections prohibiting grants or vouchers of public money for religious schools.

Raise Your Hands for Kids thinks these concessions will help passage by currying favor with special-interest groups. R.J. Reynolds provided lots of money. Anti-abortion and anti-stem cell groups and supporters of religious schools see a chance to repeal provisions in the constitution they don’t like.

Original supporters of the initiative touted funding for early childhood education, but their proposal is infected with unrelated provisions causing many to jump ship. The valuable cause of early education can’t carry the weight of the pernicious additives.

The Missouri Constitution forbids initiatives that include more than one subject or amend more than one article of the constitution. A Supreme Court ruling known as “Hammerschmidt” applies that concept to bills approved by lawmakers, and the Raise Your Hands concoction qualifies, but many or most signers of the petition will not be aware. Would they support a law they knew would prohibit tobacco research, stem cell research and repeal of the long-standing prohibition of public funds for religious schools?

Voters should refrain from signing the petition. If enough are fooled and the thing gets on the ballot, we’ll take another swing at voters in the actual election. By then this misbegotten concoction surely will be walking, or crawling, dead.

HJW III

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Editorial: Unacceptable poison pill in tobacco tax initiative

By the Editorial Board • St. Louis Post Dispatch • 

It pains us to reverse this newspaper’s support for what seemed like a worthy Missouri constitutional amendment, but we cannot advocate a clear attempt to deceive voters with what now appears to be a Trojan horse measure. We’re talking about a ballot initiative that aimed to raise $305 million a year for children’s health by hiking the state tobacco tax.

Had the initiative’s language stopped there, we’d be 100 percent behind it today, as we were when we endorsed it in February. But the measure contains a clause with unacceptable long-term implications for important scientific research.

The group Raise Your Hands for Kids touted this initiative as a way to raise money for young children by increasing the state’s cigarette tax, the lowest in the nation, from 17 cents to 77 cents a pack. The poisonous part involves language stipulating the new tax revenue cannot be used for abortions, abortion services or for “human cloning or research, clinical trials, or therapies or cures using human embryonic stem-cells.”

The stem-cell language has sent Missouri Cures, a coalition that successfully campaigned for a constitutional amendment protecting stem-cell research in 2006, running from this initiative. Likewise, Washington University has withdrawn support and is now lobbying against it.

State Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, is another former supporter who has bolted. Having previously raised funds for the campaign, she is now writing donors to explain her decision to withdraw support and asking them to do the same.

Schupp says the initiative was “hijacked” and that it “threw a bone to groups against stem-cell research and anti-abortion proponents.”

Linda Rallo, executive director of Raise Your Hands for Kids, says her group inserted the language because of a Washington University report in 2013 about why a campaign the year before to raise the state’s tobacco tax had failed. The report suggested care should be taken to mitigate opposition by anti-abortion groups.

But the university said in a statement that “inferring that strong anti-research language should be included in future initiatives is a complete overreach of the authors’ intentions.”

The real shame is that children and needy families could lose access to an estimated $28 million a year from the tax, which would have gone for screenings, preventive health care and other services. The sharply higher tax would be a big incentive for smokers to quit, and some of the money from it was slated for smoking cessation.

Rallo insists the stem-cell and abortion language was added only to make it “crystal clear” that the taxes raised could be used solely for children and smoking cessation. She says objections were raised too late for her to take the language out of the proposal.

She accused opponents of not wanting to help kids but did not acknowledge her own role in alienating them — and, unfortunately, this newspaper.

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Tobacco companies bankrolling rival efforts to hike Missouri’s tobacco tax

By JO MANNIES • 4.21.16 • St. Louis Post Dispatch

For all the talk about increasing Missouri’s tobacco tax to provide more money for education and transportation, the state’s two dueling tobacco-tax proposals appear caught in a longstanding dispute that has nothing to do with their objectives.

Tobacco companies are the chief donors to both initiative-petition campaigns that seek to increase the state’s 17-cent-a-pack tobacco tax, now the nation’s lowest. One would raise the tax by 23 cents a pack to pay for transportation improvements, while the other would hike the tax by 60 cents a pack to pay for early childhood programs.

In a nutshell, the dueling donations stem from a decades-long fight between the nation’s largest tobacco companies, and the smaller ones. The large tobacco companies are upset that Missouri’s laws currently allow small tobacco companies to avoid making the government payments imposed by a multi-state court settlement in place since 1998.

Missouri is the only state that still has such an exemption.

Different tobacco interests have different reasons to support tobacco tax proposals.

Reynolds American Inc., the parent company of the RJ Reynolds tobacco company, has donated more than $2 million to the Raise Your Hand for Kids group that is championing the 60-cent-a-pack increase in Missouri’s tobacco tax.

Reynolds’ contributions represent over 90 percent of the money that the group has collected for its initiative-petition drive to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

A Reynolds American spokesman, Bryan Hatchell, says the company’s money reflects its support for Raise Your Hand’s objective to earmark the bulk of the tax hike for early childhood programs focused on education and health.

But Hatchell and Raise Your Hand executive director Linda Rallo acknowledge there’s another reason for Reynolds’ involvement: The initiative includes a provision that would impose an additional 67-cent-a-pack tax on small tobacco companies. The upshot is that those small companies would see their state tobacco tax shoot up by $1.27 a pack.

That added tax is aimed at closing the “loophole’’ that has allowed small tobacco companies to avoid the payments that the large tobacco companies have made to 46 states, including Missouri, as part of the 1998 court settlement. The states had sued the companies to recover some of their tobacco-related health-care costs tied to their Medicaid programs, which provide health care to the poor.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has been lobbying the General Assembly for years to end the loophole. So far, legislators have not complied. The lack of action is costing Missouri about $50 million a year in lost payments from the tobacco settlement. A spokeswoman for Koster said he’s aware of the provision inserted into the Raise Your Hand initiative, but remains focused on his own legislative solution.

Rallo said that Reynolds executives approached her group last fall about adding the provision that would impose a higher tax on the small tobacco companies. Her group supports the proposal, she said, because small tobacco companies produce the low-cost cigarettes that can entice teens to take up smoking, thus endangering their health.

Small tobacco companies seek smaller tax hike

Meanwhile, a handful of small tobacco companies are bankrolling the rival initiative proposal sponsored by the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. Association executive director Ron Leone calls its proposed 23-cent-a-pack increase “fair and reasonable, but still substantial.”

The association actively opposed previous tobacco-tax hikes proposed in 2002, 2006 and 2012. All failed to pass.

Leone said the small tobacco companies are financing this year’s petition drive because the firms are members of the association and have the money to help out. The companies include LPC Inc. of Fenton, Xcaliber International LTD, and Cheyenne International LLC.

Chuck Hatfield, the lawyer for Cheyenne, also links its involvement, in part, to its opposition to the 67-cent tax embedded in the Raise Your Hand initiative.

As Hatfield sees it, Reynolds’ interest in the rival effort has “never been about education. This (Raise Your Hand) initiative is about Big Tobacco wanting to tax their competitors. That’s what this has always been about.”

Rallo disagrees, saying leaders of the Raise Your Hand group have been working on their tobacco-tax proposal for years. The provision sought by Reynolds was a late addition, and never the prime focus, she said.

In that case, asserted Hatfield, the enticement may have been Reynolds’ generous financial help. “It may be that early-childhood education advocates decided to make a deal with the devil,’’ he said.

The fact that tobacco companies have gotten involved in both initiative campaigns doesn’t surprise state Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, who’s been closely following the efforts. “They see (a tobacco tax hike) as inevitable and this way, they can control the amount that the state’s tobacco tax is raised.”

Raise Your Hand group faces other controversies

The Raise Your Hand For Kids’ proposal calls for phasing in the 60-cent hike over four years. When fully implemented, the higher tobacco tax would raise about $305 million a year for early childhood-development programs, Rallo said.

The group initially had a broad base of supporters, but some recently have peeled off because of objections to certain provisions in the initiative.

Washington University and the Missouri Cures Education Foundation have been contending for months that some wording in the Raise Your Hand initiative could threaten the state’s constitutional protections covering embryonic stem-cell research programs. Missouri voters narrowly passed those protections in 2006, despite vigorous opposition from some anti-abortion groups.

The wording in question bars any use of the tobacco-tax increase for abortions, human cloning or embryonic stem-cell research.

Missouri Right to Life said in a statement in February that it was satisfied with the Raise Your Hand’s wording and therefore would be neutral regarding the ballot proposal.

But Schupp and former state Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, say the language dealing with abortion and stem-cell research has prompted them to drop their support for the initiative.

Schupp contended that the Raise Your Hands effort has been “hijacked by anti-choice and anti-research extremists.”

“I think it’s really disingenuous to have done this and to make this (initiative) about more than what we thought it was about,’’ Schupp said.

Graham laid out similar objections in a letter sent to a mid-Missouri newspaper.

Rallo contends that such critics are misinterpreting the language.

“We feel that it will have absolutely no impact on the provisions of Amendment 2,” Rallo said, referring to the 2006 stem-cell research protections approved by Missouri voters.

The wording dealing with abortion and stem-cell research was added to the initiative, she said, because “the pro-life community had concerns. We just wanted to make very clear that none of the funds would be used for those purposes.”

“We wanted to improve the likelihood that we would win in November,’’ Rallo continued. “We believe the language we used gives us the best opportunity to do that.”

Private and parochial schools

Critics also are pointing to a provision in the initiative that allows the early-childhood money generated by the tax hike to go to private and parochial schools. They contend that may run afoul of the prohibitions in the Missouri constitution.

Rallo replied that in some cases, it’s “absolutely necessary to partner with private providers’’ for early childhood education services, especially in some rural areas.

“None of our funding will go for any kind of religious curriculum,” she said. “Our language is not unconstitutional, and it is practical.”

Transportation proposal attracting less attention

In contrast, there’s been little debate over the smaller tax hike proposed by the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. Leone contends that’s because his group’s tobacco-tax proposal for transportation “is transparent’’ with no unrelated provisions.

The association’s initiative would change Missouri law, and not the state constitution, so it will need fewer signatures from registered voters to get on the ballot.

Leone and Rallo both say they’re confident their dueling proposals will garner enough signatures. Both groups must turn in their signatures by May 8 to the Missouri secretary of state’s office.

But before then, they may meet in court.

Hatfield represents a business plaintiff in a fight to block the Raise Your Hand initiative from getting on the ballot, even if it collects enough signatures. Hatfield said his client objects to the ballot wording and also raises some constitutional questions. A hearing is scheduled for next Thursday in Jefferson City.

If both tobacco-tax proposals end up on the ballot, and both are approved by voters, Leone maintains that the result would be that both hikes would go into effect — thus, increasing Missouri’s tobacco tax by 83 cents a pack (and by $1.50 a pack for the small tobacco companies).

But such an increase would still keep Missouri’s tobacco tax lower than at least 34 states.

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

 

Why does Missouri Cures oppose the 2016 Early Childhood Health and Education Amendment ballot initiative promoted by a group called Raise Your Hand for Kids (RYH4K)?

Missouri Cures does not take a position on the merits of a tobacco tax to support early childhood education. Our opposition to the initiative is rooted in the proposed ballot language, which states: “No funds from the Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund shall be used for human cloning or research, clinical trials, or therapies or cures using human embryonic stem cells, as defined in Article III, section 38(d).”

The effect of this sentence if it were to become part of the Missouri Constitution would be quite damaging. It would conflict with the constitution’s currently unambiguous voice protecting the freedom to conduct stem cell research in Missouri and would undermine the otherwise science friendly climate in our state.

Could there be negative repercussions if the RYH4K language is allowed to become part of the Missouri Constitution?

Yes. The Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Amendment speaks with a single, clear voice that all stem cell research permitted under federal law will be permitted in Missouri. The constitutional ambiguity introduced by the RYH4K language would open the door to attempts in the General Assembly to restrict stem cell research directly or to other tactics aimed at creating a chilling effect on research. In the best case, such legislation might be successfully blocked; but it might lead to costly, divisive litigation with unpredictable outcomes and embarrassment to our state.

The current climate in Missouri is safe for doctors and scientists who wish to participate in federally approved stem cell research. Anti-research legislation cannot threaten this freedom and cannot create a chilling effect in our research institutions, as it does in states without the same constitutional protections in place.

Could funds generated by passage of the RYH4K initiative be used to support medical research?

No. Missouri Cures has never sought taxpayer support for stem cell research, and we are not seeking it now.

If Missouri Cures supporters are not seeking funds for research, why are you opposed to the language in this initiative?

The RYH4K initiative clearly spells out that the proceeds from the tobacco tax will be used solely for the purposes of early childhood education, early childhood health care and smoking cessation programs. All other uses are prohibited.

Why then, have the supporters of the initiative seen fit to include additional language that explicitly prohibits funds from being used for “therapies and cures using human embryonic stem cells, as defined in Article III, section 38(d)”?  The answer is that the supporters of RYH4K seek to constitutionally single out and stigmatize research conducted with stem cells. This is why Missouri Cures opposes this initiative.

If the intent of the RYH4K’s initiative is clear without the anti-research language, why is it in there?

We have no doubt that this language is a calculated attempt to do harm to our research freedoms. We don’t necessarily believe that all proponents of the RYH4K ballot initiative are aware of or share that motivation. However, proponents have allowed the ballot proposal to be used by anti-research activists. It was on the fifteenth filing of the ballot proposal with the Secretary of State that changes were made that both added the harmful language and simultaneously converted a statutory initiative into a constitutional initiative. By their own internal memoranda, this new language was unnecessary and superfluous in achieving the stated goals of the initiative, i.e., to increase Missouri’s tobacco tax and to use the proceeds to fund early childhood education.

RYH4K claims the anti-research language is based on a recommendation from the report, Show-Me a Brighter Future Campaign Evaluation, by Washington University. Is this true?

No. The report in question is a post-campaign analysis of the failed 2012 tobacco tax campaign that was written by researchers at the Center for Public Health Systems Science at Washington University. The authors made no recommendation to include language which conflicts with the 2006 stem cell amendment in the RYH4K initiative. While the report does discuss language included in the 2012 ballot measure to mitigate opposition from the pro-life community, to infer that strong anti-research language should be included in future tobacco increase initiatives is a complete overreach of the authors’ intentions.

Washington University stands with Missouri Cures in opposing the language in the proposed RYH4K initiative.

What action is Missouri Cures taking to address concerns about RYH4K’s initiative?

Missouri Cures calls for the removal of the harmful and unrelated anti-research language in the ballot measure.  Until this happens, Missouri Cures stands opposed.

Paid for by Missouri Cures, Dena Ladd, Executive Director, P.O.Box 16580, St. Louis, MO 63105
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Initiative Petition Raises More than Cigarette Taxes

The IP Raises Questions about Abortion, Stem-Cell and Tobacco Research & Religious School Funding too…

Let’s say I’m a fan of early childhood education programs and am considering supporting the initiative petition (IP) being circulated by the group Raise Your Hands 4-Kids. The initiative imposes a new tax on cigarettes sold in the state of $1.27 a pack, when you add the base tax (60-cents a pack) to the “equity fee” (67-cents pack), for a nearly 750% increase in cigarette taxes in Missouri.

Sounds good right? Let’s stick it to smokers and the cigarette companies and raise some quick money for kids programs.

Now let’s say I’m Pro-life, opposed to the federal medical emergency exception allowing abortions; or, I’m pro stem-cell research and supported the successful Missouri Cures ballot issue back in 2006; or I hate tobacco and want the state to conduct research that shows the harmful effects of continued use; or I’m pro-public school opposed to using public funds for grants or vouchers to assist religious schools.

If you identify as a supporter of any of these issues, that admittedly have nothing to do with early childhood education program funding, but everything to do with the RYH4Ks IP, then you’re going to want to read the language relating to these issues included in the early childhood education IP… because word matter and if passed by voters, this language will be enshrined in the Missouri constitution.

The RYH4K’s IP says money raised by the new taxes can’t be used for abortions or abortion services, “unless such services are limited to medical emergencies”1. Federal law requires hospitals that accept federal payments to provide treatment for medical emergencies. Performing an abortion in this situation is rare, but is allowed under this exception. Apparently this language was inserted into the IP because a small portion of the money raise by the new tax is earmarked for hospitals.

The RYH4Ks IP says none of the money raised by these new taxes can be used for “human cloning or research, clinical trials, or therapies or cures using human embryonic stem-cells”2. This provision goes on to couple this prohibitive language with the lifesaving cures amendment added to the Missouri Constitution by voters in 20063. Missouri Cures and the Missouri Biotechnology Association opposes this provision as they believe it’s an attempt by anti- stem-cell research advocates to limit lifesaving cures research.

The RYH4Ks IP says none of the money raised by these new taxes can be used for “tobacco related research of any kind”4, an obvious concession made by RYH4Ks for their primary donor Reynolds American International Services (RAI), affiliate company of RJ Reynolds Tobacco. Missouri Ethics Commission records show that RAI has contributed over $2million to RYH4Ks to get the IP, the anti-research provision and the “equity fee”, that is only assessed on RAI’s competitors, into the Missouri Constitution.

And finally, the RYH4Ks IP allows money raised by these new taxes to be used for early childhood programs operated by private religious schools. The Missouri Constitution currently prohibits public funding for religious schools5, however the IP contains a sentence- “Distributions of funds under this amendment shall not be limited or prohibited by the provisions of Article IX, Section 8”6– that circumvents this prohibition and allows grants or vouchers of public money to be used for religious schools.

The spokesperson for RYH4Ks would prefer that you keep your focus on the fuzzy puppy- more funding for early childhood education- and ignore the other stuff- language related to abortion, stem-cell & tobacco research or religious school funding. However, these additional provisions matter and raise questions to alarming to ignore.

Read the RYH4Ks Early Childhood Education initiative petition here…

6Initiative Petition 2016-152, Page 3, Section 54(b). 2.

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Missouri Cures opposes hijacked ballot initiative

By Donn Rubin and Dena Ladd, Published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch on 

Why would a Missouri ballot initiative seeking to increase tobacco taxes to fund early childhood education include an unrelated provision restricting stem cell research? It is the latest in scores of efforts by anti-research activists to tie their narrow agenda to an otherwise attractive ballot proposal or legislative bill.

Thus far, supporters of medical research have been able to expose such tricks and keep our state a welcoming place for medical scientists carrying on the age-old battle against disease and early death. It is wrong to trade advances in medical care for early childhood education. They are not in conflict. Missouri should have both.

It has been a decade since Missouri Cures led a coalition of business organizations, clergy groups, patient advocates, doctors, nurses and medical researchers to pass the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Amendment. The 2006 constitutional amendment protects, for Missouri’s patients, physicians and scientists, access to stem cell research that holds the potential of cures and therapies for devastating diseases. It also established guidelines that prevent abuse of such research. In 2006, anti-research activists who wanted to see the amendment fail conjured up absurd scenarios, such as armies of clones on Missouri’s sidewalks, if voters passed the amendment. Of course, none of these scenarios ever came to pass.

Supporters of the 2006 amendment made the case that Missouri must have a level playing field and equal access to cutting-edge medical research. This is not only important to Missouri patients and their families who deserve access to the best medical care, but it is also important to our emerging innovation economy. Missouri has seen tremendous growth in startups and entrepreneurial activity over the past decade, thanks in part to the environment promoted by the stem cell amendment and other science-friendly policies. This innovation-based economic growth has been nurtured and supported in a bipartisan way by our elected leaders.

Still, the most unrelenting of the anti-research activists have refused to moderate their vitriol for stem cell research. In the decade since the stem cell amendment passed, we have seen annual attempts in the Missouri Legislature to erode protections guaranteed by the amendment. The effect of these continual attempts to infect bills on important topics — ranging from economic development to higher education — is often to block positive programs that could advance our state.

This year, anti-research language has crept into the Raise Your Hands for Kids constitutional ballot initiative that would increase Missouri’s tobacco tax to fund early childhood education and tobacco prevention programs. This provision, entirely unrelated to the purpose of the initiative, would stigmatize stem cell research and threaten the protections passed by Missouri voters in 2006.

Missouri Cures has consistently stood against attempts to undermine the research-friendly environment guaranteed by the amendment that voters passed a decade ago. We urge the proponents of RYH4K to remove the harmful and unnecessary language threatening medical research.

Missourians should be proud of their passing the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Amendment in 2006. It sent a signal that Missouri embraces innovation. And a decade later, Missouri has seen benefits as that innovation generates economic and job growth and also helps to improve the human condition. As long as the RYH4K ballot initiative contains words that hamstring innovation and stifle the search for better medical treatments, Missouri Cures will stand opposed.

Donn Rubin is chairman of Missouri Cures. He is also president and CEO of BioSTL. Dena Ladd is executive director of Missouri Cures.
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Letters to the Editor

Language in tobacco tax initiative would impede scientific research

The organization Raise Your Hands for Kids is proposing a ballot initiative that would increase taxation of tobacco and use the proceeds to increase funding for early childhood education. This is a laudable proposal that most would support. However, buried in the measure is language that would greatly impede stem cell and other important scientific research in the state. When I voted in the presidential primary last week, I encountered a woman outside my voting location soliciting signatures for the measure by promoting the purported purpose, but with no mention of the unrelated anti-science language. I encourage others not to sign the Raise Your Hands for Kids petition until the unfavorable language is removed.
Dr. Benjamin A. Borowsky  •  Clayton

April 6, 2016 Published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
I have been a longtime supporter of Missouri Cures. The organization promotes and protects medical research in Missouri working with the outstanding research institutions in our state. For the last decade, since the 2006 Stem Cell Research and Cures Amendment was passed, Missouri Cures has never sought taxpayer money for stem cell research. As an attorney, I follow and understand ballot initiatives. Why did Raise Your Hands for Kids sneak anti-medical research language into an otherwise straightforward proposal? The two subjects are not even related. Raise Your Hands for Kids can accomplish what they want to accomplish without the unnecessary language against medical research. It is unfortunate that unnecessary politics is put into an otherwise straightforward initiative simply to gain favor and votes with the anti-science community. Eric Westacott  •  Ballwin
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Read the fine print on ballot issues

Monday, April 11, 2016 at 2:00 pm Published in Columbia Daily Tribune.
I have been a longtime supporter of medical research and have volunteered with Missouri Cures for years. The organization promotes and protects medical research in Missouri working with the outstanding research institutions in our state. A tremendous amount of progress has been made in stem cell research; Missouri can’t afford to lose the gains we have made. Missourians voted to protect stem cell research and to ban human cloning in 2006. The Raise Your Hands for Kids ballot initiative claims to be good for early childhood education, but there are some important statements hidden in the fine print. Even though early childhood education and stem cell research have no relation to one another, this ballot measure would prohibit stem cell research and other necessary medical research. Ballot measures should be clear about their real intentions and not have ulterior motives. If Raise Your Hands truly wants to help early childhood education, it should omit the anti-medical research language within the ballot initiative. Missouri voters do not deserve to accept this Trojan Horse. Bob Pund • Columbia

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Insufficient tobacco tax increase proposals undermine public health

Tobacco industry bankrolls Missouri ballot measures
March 2, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jennifer Sykes, HCF
(816) 241-7006
jsykes@hcfgkc.org

Jill Courtney, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
(913)710-5519
jill.courtney@cancer.org

 

Jefferson City, MO – In response to two proposed plans that inadequately increase Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation tobacco tax, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Missouri, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and Tobacco-Free Missouri issued the following statement:

“It is alarming and deceitful for the tobacco industry to support two insufficient tobacco tax proposals in our state under the guise of concern about education and transportation funding. Small increases to the tobacco tax – like the proposals being considered – will generate new revenue, but will not keep kids from becoming addicted to cigarettes or help adults quit.

“Tobacco taxes work when the price increase is substantial enough to motivate current smokers to quit and prevent kids from starting. A dime here or there is not sufficient. Tobacco companies are adept at finding ways to absorb small tax increases through adjusted pricing. What’s worse, these marginal increases could hamper future efforts; promising profitable returns for the tobacco industry at the continued expense of Missourians’ health.

“As organizations dedicated to improving public health, we have long been leaders in the fight against tobacco. The tobacco industry has an extensive history of directly opposing proven tobacco control measures in Missouri and across the country, and this is no exception. Make no mistake: the industry’s support for these small increases is merely to improve their image while lining their pockets. All previous efforts to raise Missouri’s tobacco tax by meaningful amounts have been thwarted by those who profit from smoking addiction – convenience stores and cigarette manufacturers. R.J. Reynolds’ recent contributions totaling more than $1.27 million in support of a tobacco tax proposal are unprecedented.

“R.J. Reynolds, best known for their infamous Joe Camel cartoon, is notorious for its aggressive efforts to lure kids into smoking. Undoubtedly, it is profit – not public health – that is the true motivation behind the tobacco industry’s sudden support of such a small tax, and they should not be determining Missouri’s public health policy.

“Tobacco products in Missouri are too cheap and the health costs are too high. Our state is long overdue for a tobacco tax increase, but it needs to be one that will make a difference and save lives. A meaningful tobacco tax increase – of $1.00 per pack or more – has proven time and again to be an effective way to reduce tobacco use, cut health care costs and generate state revenue.

“We will continue to advocate for evidence-based tobacco control policies that are proven to save lives.”

-HCF-

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Paid for by We Deserve Better through an in-kind contribution from Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, Inc.

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