Missouri Supreme Court Says Voters Will Decide on Cigarette Tax Hike

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that voters will get to decide on raising cigarette taxes. The measure will appear on the ballot for the November 8th election, asking voters to weigh a proposed constitutional amendment that would phase in a 60-cent-per-pack increase of the state’s tobacco taxes, which are currently the lowest in the nation.

Critics say that the language presented to signers of a petition supporting the proposal was misleading. An appeals court has since ordered the language changed, but the Supreme Court upheld the petition—which helped secure the proposal’s place on the ballot—since it was circulated with what was the official ballot language at the time.

Supporters of the ballot proposal include cigarette-maker, Reynolds American Inc., a participant in a 1998 legal settlement involving Missouri and 45 other states. The company objects to small cigarette companies, who were not part of the settlement, selling cigarettes at lower prices in Missouri than settlement participants. The proposal would raise fees on those brands by 67 cents.