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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association has new signs at the Phillips 66 gas station on South Providence Road, coinciding with a campaign launched Tuesday to encourage people vote "no" on Proposition B, which would impose a tax increase on cigarettes sales. The tax increase would be 3.65 cents per cigarette--73 cents per pack.  Opponents are using the size of the percentage tax increase--760 percent--as one of their main talking points.

George Nickols, a Columbia resident, opposes the proposition.  He said any propositions against smokers are bad. He also said the proposition would either force smokers to quit smoking or even develop a black market since they have to pay much more to buy cigarettes.

But Roger Kurtz, the executive director of the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA), said the American Cancer Society supports the proposition because it believes the increase would curb the high rate of smoking occurring in Missouri. MASA supports the tax increase because schools would get half of the additional tax revenue. He said lower smoking rate and more revenue for schools would be a win-win situation.

The Proposition B will be on the ballot Nov. 6.