A Springfield tobacco dealer filed a lawsuit Friday that challenges a proposed constitutional amendment that would more than quadruple Missouri's lowest-in-the-nation tobacco tax and create new fees on some off-brand cigarettes.

A Springfield tobacco dealer filed a lawsuit Friday that challenges a proposed constitutional amendment that would more than quadruple Missouri's lowest-in-the-nation tobacco tax and create new fees on some off-brand cigarettes.
The suit was filed on behalf of Jim Boeving, owner of Discount Smokes & Beer in Springfield, who wants to prevent the measure from being placed on this year's ballot.
Boeving claims a summary statement and fiscal note on the initiative's sample sheet are insufficient and unfair, and that other provisions are unconstitutional.
Kansas City attorney Edward Greim submitted the tobacco tax ballot proposal in late November. He said Friday that neither the plaintiffs — Secretary of State Jason Kander and Auditor Nicole Galloway — nor the initiative are in conflict with any state laws.
"Lawsuits like the one filed today, on the very last day that such lawsuits can be filed, are a common litigation tactic," he said. "They're a common way to stall the collection of signatures and should be taken as no more than that."
Under Missouri law there is a 10-day deadline to file lawsuits challenging ballot summaries after initiatives are approved for circulation. Kander certified the tobacco measure's wording on Jan. 5.
Greim's proposal calls for increasing the state's 17-cent-per-pack tobacco tax by 60 cents a pack by 2020 and creating a 67-cent-per-pack "equity" fee on off-brand cigarettes not included in the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, in which the five largest U.S. tobacco companies agreed to pay $229 billion to 52 states and territories over several years to compensate them for the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses. Many smaller tobacco companies did not participate in the settlement and were not subject to its restrictions.
The official ballot title includes a summary of the proposed amendment and a fiscal note that estimates the measure would generate an additional $263 million to $374 million.
In his lawsuit, Boeving says the summary statement fails to note the 67-cent fee would increase annually for inflation, is vague regarding which kinds of cigarettes — including electronic cigarettes — are affected and unconstitutionally appropriates funds, which is the General Assembly's job.
He also claims the amendment would allow some of the proceeds from the higher taxes and fees to be distributed to religious organizations in violation of the state constitution.
Greim called that contention a red herring.