Cheap Cigs Spent Big Money Defeating Missouri's Prop. B


Happy about Prop. B? Smoke a Decade.
  • Happy about Prop. B? Smoke a Decade.
Tobacco companies financed the bulk of the paid opposition to last week's Proposition B that would have raised cigarette taxes in Missouri.

Two off-brand cigarette manufacturers -- Cheyenne International and Xcaliber International -- each contributed more than $900,000 to the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association PAC, which led the effort to defeat the tax. They were the only cigarette firms to fund opposition to Prop. B, according to paperwork filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Gas stations and quick shops also contributed mightily to the cause, with Fenton-based U-Gas contributing at least $290,000 to MPMCSA, according to filings with the state. In total, MPMCSA spent at least $2.3 million fighting Prop. B.

Related content:
- Missouri's Prop. B Is About Tobacco Taxes, Though You'd Never Know From Billboards
- Mayors Say Health Benefits of Tobacco Tax Outweigh Any Revenue Losses

Missourians for Health and Eduction, the campaign group that sought to fund education and smoking cessation in Missouri by raising the nation's lowest tobacco tax, spent at least $4.7 million on its failed campaign, according to state filings. The ballot measure lost by the narrowest of margins, 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent.  

Prop. B would have increased the tax on name-brand cigarettes such as Marlboro and Camel from Missouri's current 17 cents a pack to 90 cents a pack. For "off-brand" or "value-brand" smokes (which were spared participation in a settlement Missouri reached with tobacco companies in the 1990s) the tax would increase from 17 cents to $1.47 -- for a 764 percent increase.

Little wonder then, that Cheyenne (maker of Cheyenne and Decade cigarettes) spent $968,000 in fighting Prop. B and Xcaliber (with its Echo, Vortex, and Exeter lines of cigarettes) spent another $914,000. Convenience stores generally earn around 20 to 25 percent of their profit from the sale of tobacco products, according to MPMCSA, which explains their effort to thwart the tax increase.