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Passage of State Question 713 debated

Updated:
The official title is State Question 713. Some call it the most sweeping health care initiative in state history.

State Question 713 is a tobacco tax, which some believe is a plot to put smoke shops out of business. Proponents say adding to the tobacco tax will keep thousands of Oklahoma kids from starting smoking.

If the "yes" votes win on November 2nd, the current sales tax will be replaced by a new 80-cent excise tax on each pack of cigarettes. The money would be spread among health projects like cancer research, tobacco education programs, and a medical call center.

Opponents of 713 say the benefits of the tax will be enjoyed by the rich, but paid for by the poor. Wayne Stull, Two Turtles Smoke Shop: "They're trying to balance this whole health care issue on the backs of the poor people. The people who can least afford it. It's the most regressive tax in the history of Oklahoma."

Opponents also say even non-smokers will end up paying for the tobacco tax when cities and towns are forced to make up for the loss of sales tax revenue.
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