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Voters May Decide Tax Increase

PHOENIX -- Anti-smoking groups want to take a tobacco tax to the Arizona voters in November. The move, if approved by voters, would boost the tax on cigarettes by 60 cents, from 58 cents to $1.18 a pack, The Arizona Republic reported .

That would put the state in the country's top five for highest tobacco taxes. The issue would go on the 2002 ballot if backers can gather 101,762 signatures by July 4.

The Coalition to Protect Kids from Tobacco says the tax would generate $140 million for research and a host of tobacco prevention and early detection programs. The research money would be funneled into finding a cure for Arizona's four leading killers, heart, cancer and lung diseases and strokes. The money could not be used to help shore up the state's $1 billion budget shortfall.

Tobacco companies spent a then-record $5.8 million to kill the 1994 initiative.
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