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    Voters to Decide Missouri Tax Hike

    Court places plan to raise state's cigarette tax by 55 cents on November ballot.

    JEFFERSON CITY -- Missouri voters will decide in November whether the tax on a pack of cigarettes should be increased by 55 cents to pay for health-care programs.

    A Cole County judge ruled that the issue should be on the ballot, overturning a decision from Secretary of State Matt Blunt's office. Blunt had disqualified the ballot measures in August, saying supporters had not gathered enough signatures to place the proposals before voters, The Kansas City Star reported.

    The proposal calls for the tax on packs of cigarettes to rise by 55 cents, to 72 cents. At 17 cents a pack, Missouri now has one of the lowest cigarette taxes in the country.

    The measure, which also would place a 20-percent tax on other forms of tobacco, would raise an estimated $342.6 million a year for health care and other programs. The proposal would devote 29 percent of the revenue to emergency medical and trauma services, 43 percent to health care and prescription drug coverage for senior citizens, and 14 percent for life sciences research. Seven percent would go for early childhood care and education, and just 7 percent toward anti-smoking initiatives.

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