Tobacco companies line up on both sides of Missouri tax debate

A civil war in the tobacco industry could play out in Missouri this year.

A pair of rival ballot measures seek to raise the state’s lowest-in-the-nation 17-cents-a-pack tax on tobacco products.

One would ask voters to amend the state’s constitution to raise the tax 60 cents per pack and use the new money to pay for early childhood education. The parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., makers of Camel and Newport cigarettes, recently donated $1 million in support of the measure.

The other would ask voters to increase the tobacco tax 23 cents per pack and put the money toward road repairs. That campaign is being run by the Missouri Petroleum Markets and Convenience Store Association, a longtime opponent of previous efforts to raise the cigarette tax, and is being largely funded by smaller, value-brand cigarette companies like Cheyenne International LLC and Xcaliber International Ltd.

Read more from the Kansas City Star


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