Tobacco Industry Dishonest Campaign Tactics Confuse Voters
Novemeber 1, 2012
Show-Me A Brighter Future campaign warns
voters to be wary of last-ditch efforts by tobacco
industry in Missouri to protect their profits and
distract from lifesaving benefits of Proposition B
Today, Show-Me A Brighter Future, the campaign for Proposition B in Missouri warned voters to be wary of the tobacco industry’s dishonest campaign tactics leading up to the Nov. 6 vote. The Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, which has focused their campaign on distorting the truth about Proposition B in an effort to continue to exploit the health of Missourians for their own profits.
Proposition B will raise Missouri’s lowest-in-the nation tobacco tax to 90 cents per pack, well below the national average of $1.49 per pack, and reduce the burden on Missouri taxpayers who are currently subsidizing the tobacco industry for the $2.13 billion in annual expenditures associated with tobacco use in Missouri. If passed, the ballot measure would compel more than 33,000 adult smokers in Missouri to quit and prevent more than 40,000 kids from ever becoming addicted – which will result in lower long-term health care costs for the state.
Proposition B also will close a loophole in the Master Settlement Agreement that guarantees all tobacco companies contribute at an equal level. Missouri is the only state in the country where certain tobacco manufacturers have not been required to contribute to the Master Settlement Agreement – the same manufacturers funding the opposition to Proposition B.
“As we enter the final days of the 2012 election, we are seeing the tobacco industry engage in outrageous behavior in Missouri – scaring voters, saturating the airwaves with lies and misinformation and stopping at nothing to preserve the massive subsidy they enjoy in Missouri,” said Misty Snodgrass, campaign spokesperson and Legislative/Government Affairs Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “It is important for Missouri voters to remember that the robocalls, the false campaign ads, direct mail and misleading press releases are all paid for by the tobacco industry and they will say, do and spend whatever it takes to distract from the truth that Prop B saves lives and invests in a brighter future for Missouri’s kids.”
The campaign for Proposition B urged voters to remember the tobacco industry’s track record and referenced U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler’s decision in the United States Government’s 2006 landmark lawsuit against the tobacco industry:
"(This case) is about an industry, and in particular these Defendants, that survives, and profits, from selling a highly addictive product which causes diseases that lead to a staggering number of deaths per year, an immeasurable amount of human suffering and economic loss, and a profound burden on our national health care system. Defendants have known these facts for at least 50 years or more. Despite that knowledge, they have consistently, repeatedly, and with enormous skill and sophistication, denied these facts to the public, to the Government, and to the public health community... In short, Defendants have marketed and sold their lethal products with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted," Judge Kessler wrote (pages 3 and 4 of report).
The Show-Me A Brighter Future campaign urges Missouri voters to ignore the tobacco industry’s smokescreen and vote Yes on Proposition B.
“Proposition B has been reviewed carefully and is supported by groups you can trust, who are looking out for the best interests of Missourians,” said Snodgrass. “Proposition B will improve health care in Missouri by reducing smoking rates among adults and keeping kids from ever starting the deadly habit. In addition, Proposition B will provide much-needed new funding for Missouri's public schools, colleges and universities. It is a win-win for Missouri.”
Show-Me A Brighter Future is a diverse coalition of Missouri organizations and individuals, led by the American Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and other educational and health organizations that has proposed a statewide petition initiative that will help address Missouri’s health, smoking and school funding problems through a $.73 tax increase per pack of cigarettes and increased taxes on other tobacco products. Increasing the price of tobacco products is a proven way to decrease smoking rates and will generate an additional $283 million annually in new revenue for Missouri schools and to fund smoking prevention programs.