Judge Strikes Blow to Missouri Cigarette Tax Initiative

May 20, 2016

An initiative proposing to raise Missouri's cigarette tax to benefit early childhood programs is in jeopardy of not making the ballot after a judge ruled its financial estimate is insufficient and unfair. The ruling Thursday by Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green directs the state auditor to come up with a new cost estimate. That effectively invalidates all the petitions submitted to the secretary of state's office earlier this month. The group supporting the initiative said Friday that it will appeal. The proposal would gradually raise Missouri's cigarette tax by 60 cents a pack. The auditor estimated it would generate $263 million to $374 million annually in state revenues with the impact on local revenues unknown. Green ruled the state estimate was too high and that local costs were possible.