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Analysis: Amendment 3 Is Loaded With Benefits For Big Tobacco

We Deserve Better released a comprehensive analysis Tuesday that clearly shows Big Tobacco will be the big winner of the flawed Amendment 3 tax increase scheme, while public K-12 schools, health, patients and medical research in Missouri will lose big.

We Deserve Better did a line-by-line analysis, titled “Big Tobacco Tax Initiative: What It Says, What It Does,” that allows voters to see for themselves what Amendment 3 actually says, along with an accompanying explanation of what the language that would become permanently enshrined in our state constitution really does.  A link to the analysis is available at the end of this press release.

“It’s important for Missourians to get the real facts about what this flawed constitutional tax increase would do if voters were to pass it in November,” said Bradley Ketcher, deputy treasurer of We Deserve Better, a political action committee.

“Amendment 3 is loaded with benefits for Big Tobacco, including banning the funding of research into the harmful effects of smoking and banning public advocacy for stricter tobacco laws. It creates a huge new bureaucracy in Missouri, and it allows a raid on public school funds by a panel of unelected bureaucrats. It has unacceptable long-term implications for patients and medical research – the list goes on and on and on.”

Among highlights of the 7-page analysis, Amendment 3 would:

• Undo Missouri’s century-old constitutional ban on giving public money to religious and private schools.

• Ban funding of research on the harmful effects of tobacco smoke, including its impact on young children.

• Forbid people or groups that receive funding from advocating for further controls on tobacco products. In short, it would silence Missouri Department of Health and local public health officials on tobacco policy.

• Put control of some state and local policy decision in the hands of the federal government.

• Rename a state bureaucracy for no apparent reason, creating high costs for signs, logos, stationary, webpages, business cards, trinkets etc.

• Undermines the 2006-voter approved Stem Cell Research and Cures Constitutional Amendment and narrows its protections.

North Carolina-based RAI Services, the parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, maker of Camel, Pall-Mall and Newport cigarettes, has already spent and pledged more than $8 million to change Missouri’s constitution with Amendment 3, slated for the November statewide ballot. Big Tobacco has provided more than 90 percent of the financial backing to date to support the amendment.

“It’s clear that North Carolina-based Big Tobacco seeks to amend the Missouri Constitution to benefit itself. Early childhood education supporters and Missouri citizens are just pawns in their game,” Ketcher said. “We encourage voters to read the analysis.”

Public education, health, medical research and patient groups are among those opposing Amendment 3. These groups have equally diverse concerns, ranging from the funding and drafting of the measure by Big Tobacco to the impact on public K-12 education, health, as well as medical research and treatments in our state.

In addition to We Deserve Better, those publicly opposing the initiative are: American  Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung  Association in Missouri, BioSTL, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Concerned Women for  America of Missouri, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Missouri Alliance for Freedom, Missouri Association of Rural Education, Missouri Biotechnology Association, Missouri Cures, Missouri  National Education Association, Missouri Retired Teachers Association, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Tobacco-Free Missouri, United for Missouri and Washington University in St. Louis.