Sponsors Scrap Cigarette Tax Ballot Measure

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Sponsors Scrap Cigarette Tax Ballot Measure

Though higher taxes are always a tough sell with voters, Oregonians have shown a willingness to support tax increases on cigarettes. But they won't get a chance this November, according to an Associated Press report.

Sponsors of a proposed cigarette tax increase have scrapped the planned ballot measure, saying they can't gather the required number of signatures by the July 7 deadline. "It effectively means we're dead in the water,’" said state Rep. Billy Dalto, R-Salem.

The initiative, filed by Dalto and three other lawmakers after the 2005 Legislature refused to consider a cigarette tax hike, would have boosted the state tax by 60 cents a pack, generating more than $140 million to provide health insurance for children.

The proposed increase was opposed by tobacco industry interests who said it's not fair to saddle smokers alone with the extra costs of expanding state-subsidized health care programs. Legal challenges from the industry delayed the start of the signature-gathering campaign. Dalto said sponsors had 20,000 of the required 75,630 signatures.