Tobacco companies have funneled more than $18 million into dueling campaigns to raise Missouri’s cigarette tax, which is currently the lowest in the nation.
And most of the money pouring into the state isn’t being spent to kill the proposed tax increases.
Rather, in a twist for an industry typically averse to tax increases on its products, the makers of cigarette brands such as Camel, Newport, Decade and Exeter are the primary funding sources in support the initiatives on the Nov. 8 ballot.
One of the proposals, known as Proposition A, would increase the state’s 17-cents-a-pack tax by 23 cents, with the proceeds going to pay for transportation improvements. The two big players financing that effort are North Carolina-based Cheyenne International and XCaliber International of Oklahoma. Cheyenne has sent $2.8 million to the fight, while XCaliber has contributed $2.9 million.
The other proposal, known as Amendment 3, would phase in a 60-cents-per-pack tax over four years to pay for early childhood programs. Reynolds American Inc., the parent company of tobacco giant RJ Reynolds, has contributed $12.5 million to the cause – the first time the company has backed a tobacco tax increase.
Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch