Health advocates say the new campaign is about smoke, but smokers say it's about money. The Committee for a Healthy Future wants to tax smokers 80 more cents per pack, but others are skeptical.
"It's not going to affect cigarette sales one way or the other," said Troy Danley. "And maybe one out of 50 may stop smoking."
It's estimated about one in every four Missiori residents smokes. lTax critics said it won't help smokers stop, but it will help businesses.
"Greed is the primary motivation behind this," said lobbyist Ron Leone. "They will hide behind healthcare, and helping poor people, and doing things like that. But the reason they're doing this is so that they can tax smokers to fatten their bottom line."
Leone and other critics are against the 470% tax hike because it's the biggest proportional tax increase in the state. The Committee for a Healthy Future thinks it's worth it.
"What it's doing is going to save lives and cut the smoking in Missouri," said committee member Melissa Rickford. "Hopefully, when they see that message, that it's going to make them feel a little bit more comfortable. Because when you hear the word tax, it's not necessarily a friendly word."
Rickford's committee needs about 145,000 petition signatures statewide to put the proposed tobacco tax hike on next November's ballot as a constitutional amendment.
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