By DENA LADD
If you watch the TV ads, it appears as if Amendment 3 is going to benefit children. But that’s quite deceiving when you realize that Big Tobacco is spending millions to pass this deceptive Amendment 3 tax scheme that puts its own corporate interests ahead of our kids and our constitution.
The North Carolina-based parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco – best known as the makers of Camel and Pall-Mall cigarettes – has spent $9.5 million and counting to amend Missouri’s constitution.
Why? Because today RJR controls 75 percent of Missouri’s cigarette market and it’s using Amendment 3 to gain the other 25 percent.
THE HIDDEN AGENDA
What few understand is the sinister language buried in Amendment 3 that will cement into the bedrock of our constitution dangerous language that could irreparably harm public education and health and medical research in our state.
- Amendment 3 will threaten our growing bio-tech industry potentially destroying cures and thousands of job.
The 2006 voter-approved Missouri Stem Cell Amendment gives strong constitutional protections to stem cell research, therapies and cures, including provisions preventing it from being stigmatized or penalized. Amendment 3 would insert a new provision into the constitution that would stigmatize these activities and could threaten the otherwise welcoming environment for medical research and scientific inquiry in Missouri.
- Amendment 3 contains a public health gag order.
Organizations or individuals that receive funding from this initiative are forbidden from advocating for further controls on tobacco products. This includes those engaged in policy work in the public health area, such as city, county, and state health department officials.
- Amendment 3 will severely impact public school funding.
It includes language that dilutes Missouri’s strict, century-old constitutional ban on taxpayer dollars being diverted from public K-12 schools and sent to religious and private schools.
- Amendment 3 gives control of the money to an unelected board not accountable to the public.
Amendment 3 intentionally lacks strong oversight and places all decisions about how to spend this money in the hands of an unelected commission – a majority of whom will not be required to have a background in education. As a result, Missouri National Education Association, Missouri Association of Rural Education and Missouri Retired Teachers Association oppose Amendment 3.
Just look at who is opposed to Amendment 3 to understand that these civic, labor and business organizations are OPPOSED to deceptive Amendment 3:
The Missouri AFL-CIO, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Missouri, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Tobacco-Free Missouri, Freedom Inc., AFT Local 420, BioSTL, Missouri Biotechnology Association, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Washington University and thousands of disease groups and patients.
TRAGICALLY, WILL NOT HELP OUR KIDS
Voters should know that the outcomes planned in Amendment 3 will NOT support or nurtures our most vulnerable population: our children. That’s why so many reputable and concerned organizations are AGAINST this intentionally wonderfully sounding, but totally deceptive, Amendment.
We urge Missourians to get the facts and to join us in rejecting the dangerously flawed Amendment 3.
(Dena Ladd is executive director of Missouri Cures, a statewide public education & advocacy alliance, working to promote medical advances to improve the health of Missourians and stimulate the economy in Missouri.)