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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- In a letter obtained by CSNews Online addressed to Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore), Plaid Pantry Inc.'s president and CEO Chris Girard said he will no longer support the lawmaker either financially or personally, due to the senator's current stance on tobacco tax legislation.
Early in his campaign, Smith and Girard discussed the importance of the tobacco and alcohol categories to Plaid Pantries, and Smith's support of small business, according to the letter. Now, with Smith supporting a federal excise tax and state cigarette tax increase, Girard wrote that he can no longer support the senator.
The measures, which would fund children's healthcare, would place an unfair burden on tobacco users -- a large segment of the chain's customers, according to the letter.
A call to Smith's office was not returned as of presstime. The senator's Web site states that he introduced a tobacco tax amendment for a 0.61-cent increase -- to total $1 -- on the federal excise tax on tobacco products, for the funding of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). However, while the amendment passed the Senate earlier this year, it was not included in the final 2008 budget.
In addition, an Associated Press report from February stated that Smith supported a Democratic plan to increase the state's cigarette tax by 0.84 cents per pack to pay for an expansion of children's health insurance programs.
The bill's future is uncertain, as its chance to be on voters' ballots was rejected by the Oregon House this week. However, the bill now faces a vote by the Senate, which could allow the issue to be voted on by residents, the AP report stated.
To read Girard's entire letter to Senator Gordon Smith, click the link below:
Plaid Pantry's Chris Girard's letter to Senator Gordon Smith