For the third time in a decade, Missouri voters have rejected a bid to raise the state's lowest-in-the-nation tobacco tax.
Proposition B would have increased the excise tax on tobacco by 73 cents per pack to 90 cents, but like they did in 2002 and 2006, voters decided the tax was fine where it is, at 17 cents per pack. The national average is $1.46.
Supporters said the tax increase would have generated between $283 million and $423 million annually, with most of the funds earmarked for education and the rest for smoking-cessation programs.
Opponents said a study by a University of Missouri professor indicated the state would have lost more than $67 million in sales tax revenue because people who come to the state to buy smokes would stay home, and Missouri smokers would buy fewer cigarettes.
In other measures Tuesday night:
• Voters defeated a measure that would have changed the makeup of the state's nonpartisan, seven-member Appellate Judicial Commission to give the governor four appointees, instead of the current three.
• Voters passed a proposition which gives the city of St. Louis control of its police force for the first time since 1861. Currently, a five-person board consisting of the St. Louis mayor and four members appointed by the governor oversee the department. The ballot initiative would allow the city to take over the administration of the department beginning next July.
• Voters passed Proposition E, which bans the governor or his administration from taking steps to create an online insurance exchange. Under President Barack Obama's health care law, states have until 2014 to create a health insurance exchange or have the federal government run one for them. The exchanges are intended to provide individuals and small businesses a way to compare and buy health insurance policies.
Prop B foe says proposed tax hike was too steep
The head of a trade group that successfully lobbied against an increase in Missouri's tobacco tax says he offered to support a smaller hike earlier this year, but nobody took him up on it.
Voters on Tuesday rejected a sharp increase in the state's lowest-in-the-nation tobacco excise tax. It was the third time the proposal was rejected in a decade. The measure failed by less than 1 percent.
Proposition B would have raised the excise tax on cigarettes from 17 cents per pack to 90 cents, with the revenue earmarked for education and smoking cessation programs.
Ron Leone, whose Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association opposed the increase, says his group would not oppose doubling the tax. But he says the increase sought in Tuesday's proposition was too high.