Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tobacco Tax, Police Change Have Backing; Proposal to Reform Judicial Selection in Missouri Is Trailing, Although Many Voters Say They Are Undecided; ELECTIONS 2012

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tobacco Tax, Police Change Have Backing; Proposal to Reform Judicial Selection in Missouri Is Trailing, Although Many Voters Say They Are Undecided; ELECTIONS 2012

Article excerpt

Missourians appear ready to increase the tax on cigarettes and to remove state control of the St. Louis Police Department, according to a new statewide poll.

The tobacco tax hike was favored by 52 percent and opposed by 40 percent of 625 likely voters in a statewide telephone survey conducted Tuesday through Thursday for the Post-Dispatch, News 4 and the Kansas City Star. Eight percent were undecided.

The police proposition, a state law change, won 50 percent support statewide and was opposed by 28 percent. A relatively large number of respondents, 22 percent, were noncommital.

The poll, by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc., also showed big majorities in favor of an anti-Obamacare proposition on health insurance exchanges and against a change in the way some judges are selected.

The health proposition, barring the governor from setting up the insurance exchanges unless authorized by the Legislature or in an election, was favored, 57-25 percent, with 18 percent undecided.

The judicial measure, which would affect the selection of future Supreme Court and state Court of Appeals judges, was opposed, 56-21 percent. But nearly one in four respondents, 23 percent, remained undecided.

For each question, the margin for error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The cigarette tax plan, Proposition B, was backed in the St. Louis and Kansas City metro areas and outstate Missouri.

The measure, placed on the ballot by an initiative petition drive funded largely by the American Cancer Society, is expected to generate at least $283 million for public schools and smoking cessation programs.

A key component is hiking the state's 17-cent tax on a pack of cigarettes to 90 cents.

One respondent - Bill Heine, 56, of south St. Louis County - said he supports the plan because it would channel more money to schools without raising taxes generally.

"To put it bluntly, my family doesn't smoke," said Heine, a livestock consultant and political independent. "If it can improve schools, let (smokers) pay more."

The extra school money has been an emphasis of a television ad campaign launched by supporters.

Christy Thompson, 45, of Ladue, said her skepticism about that pledge helps explain her opposition to the increase.

"I'm not really convinced the funds are going to go where they're intended," said Thompson, a lawyer and a Republican. …

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