Leone said his organization is not opposed to any tax increase on tobacco. He said he spoke in favor of legislation that would have nearly doubled the tax to 33 cents per pack earlier this year, but the bill never gained traction.
For anyone to say were against all tax increases is ridiculous, he said. Were just against any tax increase that puts us at a competitive disadvantage with our neighboring states.
The nations biggest tobacco companies may be sitting out the 2012 campaign, but off-brand cigarette companies are spending big in Missouri.
Two of those companies Cheyenne International LLC of Grover, N.C., and Xcaliber International LTD LLC of Pryor, Okla. have given more than $1 million combined to the opposition campaign this year.
Several convenience store chains, such as Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc., also have chipped in to the opposition effort.
The American Cancer Society spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the campaign just getting the measure on the ballot, and last week the organization chipped in another $1.7 million.
A poll released in August by the firm Public Policy Polling showed 47 percent of respondents in favor, 38 percent opposed and 14 percent undecided.
Both sides are optimistic about their chances.
Youre always fighting an uphill battle when youre fighting a sin tax, Leone said. Our job is to educate voters and pull back the curtain and understand all taxpayers have skin in the game. This is not simply a tax that someone else pays.
Snodgrass said the campaign is gaining support every day as proponents travel the state to educate voters.
Once voters see the benefits to their community, were going to be successful this November, she said.