Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Poll Shows Missouri Voters Not Fired Up about Raising Nation's Lowest Cigarette Tax

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Poll Shows Missouri Voters Not Fired Up about Raising Nation's Lowest Cigarette Tax

Article excerpt

JEFFERSON CITY * Missouri voters appear poised to snuff out two proposed tobacco tax increases on this year's general election ballot, according to a new Post-Dispatch poll.

In a telephone survey of 625 voters conducted Monday through Wednesday, the two ballot initiatives calling for raising Missouri's lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax received scant support, despite more than $18 million in contributions to the cause from tobacco companies.

By contrast, the poll showed robust support for two other questions on the ballot, including one that would reinstate caps on campaign contributions and a separate GOP-led effort to require voters to present a photo ID before casting a ballot.

The poll surveyed voters on four of the six ballot initiatives facing voters this year. Other questions on the ballot include whether to keep a special sales and use tax that benefits state soil and water conservation programs and whether to prohibit the state from imposing taxes on services, such as haircuts and dry cleaning.

The negative responses to the cigarette tax increases surprised Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Managing Director Brad Coker.

Asked whether they support a 23-cent increase in the 17-cent-per- pack tobacco tax, just 39 percent of the respondents said "yes," with 54 percent saying "no."

Just 43 percent of those polled said they would support a separate cigarette tax increase proposal on the ballot that would phase in a 60-cent-per-pack tax increase to pay for early childhood initiatives. The poll found 49 percent poised to vote "no" on the proposal.

"Generally, taxing cigarettes is sort of a popular way of raising money," Coker said.

Plus, with smoking rates dropping and fewer than one quarter of Missouri adults using tobacco, it would seem like a "no- brainer" that a cigarette tax increase would win, he said.

"If you don't smoke, why do you care about voting for a tax increase on cigarettes? …

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