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Montana Tobacco Sales Tax, Measure I-149 (2004)

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The Montana Tobacco Sales Tax Measure, also known as the 2004 Healthy Kids, Healthy Montana Tobacco Tax Increase Act. or I-149, was an initiated state statute on the November 2, 2004 ballot in Montana, where it was approved.[1]

Election results

I-149 (Tobacco Sales Tax)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 282,448 63.3%
No163,62636.7%

Official results via: The Montana Secretary of State

Impact

  • 45% for additional enrollment in the children's health insurance program
  • Increased medicaid services and provider rates
  • Fundung a supplemental need-based prescription drug program, if created by the legislature, for certain groups, and programs to help small businesses provide employee health insurance.

Remaining revenue would be allocated to state veterans' nursing homes, the state building fund, and the general fund.

Support

The initiative was sponsored by the organization Healthy Kids Healthy Montana[2] and was supported by organizations including AARP Montana, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and many more. Richard P. Argent of Healthy Kids Healthy Montana argued that:

  • I-149's price increase will result in a 16.2% reduction in youth smoking.
  • I-149 will help fund health insurance for Montana's children.
  • Montanans will see significant health benefits from reduced tobacco use due to I-149.
  • I-149 will save taxpayers millions in long-term disability and health costs caused by smoking.[3]


Opposition

The official opposing argument was prepared by Rep. Jack Ross, Ronna Alexander, Dan Atonietti and Mark Staples.[4] In the argument, the following points were made:

  • The cigarette/tobacco tax had just been raised by the state legislature from 18 cents per pack to 70 cents per pack. This tax increase alone posed a burden to Montanans; I-149 would significantly add to that burden.
  • I-149 poses a threat to the Veterans' Homes in Montana as it places in jeopardy the amount of money that goes to them and may actually reduce their funding.
  • I-149 creates a new multi-million dollar bureaucracy requiring millions in new spending. The bureaucracy will initially be funded by tobacco tax revenue, but as that revenue decreases due to decreased tobacco consumption, the bureaucracy will become a liability to all Montanans.
  • I-149 will have a negative impact on Montana wholesalers and retailers as consumers will choose to purchase cigarettes/tobacco over the internet or illegally to avoid the high tax rate on tobacco. The opposition cited the Department of Revenue's findings that in Washington State, illegal (untaxed) sales accounted for nearly 40% of cigarette/tobacco sales due to Washington's high tobacco tax.[5]

Campaign financing

Major donors to the initiative included Healthy Kids Healthy Montana, who donated $240,800 to the measure. Opponents such as Veterans, Taxpayers, Montanans and Tobacco Retailers, Wholesalers and Manfacturers spent a total of $98,997 against the measure.[6]

See also

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