Tuning in: Tobacco tax ad

By Carmel Perez Snyder Published: October 14, 2004
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Editor's note: This is one in a series analyzing television campaign advertisements regarding state questions on November's ballot.

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The ad's sponsor: The ad is paid for by the Vote No on State Question 713 Committee, which is a coalition of tobacco giants Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds and the Cigar Association.

The ad says: Voiceover: "State Question 713 -- the $200 million tax increase. Trying to find the way to pay for health care is a good idea, but this just isn't the way to do it. And, guess who pays? All the studies show it will be the poor who pay the most. State Question 713 even contains a tax cut for the rich. 713 -- more taxes for the poor and a new tax cut for the rich. Tell the politicians they'll have to do better. Vote no on Question 713.

The ad shows: A surgical team in the operating room, then

faces of older people and children, highlighting the point of "Who will pay?" Next is a split screen of a yacht cruising across the water on the left, and a smiling and apparently wealthy couple on the right.

Analysis: The ad aims to put the focus on the tax increase on the state's tobacco excise tax. Though the state question also provides several tax decreases, the ad focuses on the capital gains cuts. The word tobacco is never used.

Committee spokesman Chris Lowther said several Oklahoma wholesalers and convenience stores are also part of the coalition. He declined to mention all the members, saying some preferred to remain unnamed until the group files a contribution report with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.

What State Question 713 says: This measure ends sales tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products. The measure places a new tax on cigarettes. This tax will be 4 cents per cigarette. The measure places a new tax on other tobacco products. These taxes begin Jan. 1, 2005. (The total tax increase is a net 55 cents.)

Some monies from the new taxes will be given to state, county, and local government. Some monies from these taxes will be used for various health-related purposes. These purposes include health care, building a cancer center, trauma care, long-distance medical care, substance abuse, breast cancer, and aid to hospitals and ambulance services.

A committee is created to recommend rules regarding tobacco product taxes. The measure provides penalties for Indian tribes that break tobacco tax compacts.

The measure makes several income tax changes. It makes the highest Method One individual income tax rate 6.65 percent. It increases the amount of certain retirement benefits not subject to income tax. It allows certain capital gains of an individual to not be subject to income tax.

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