Jul 26, 2:06 PM EDT

2 new lawsuits challenge Missouri cigarette tax proposal

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Opponents of a cigarette tax hike that would benefit early childhood programs have filed two new lawsuits seeking to block it from the November ballot.

One is a follow up to a recent appeals court decision that changed the measure's ballot summary. Opponents contend all the petitions should be invalidated because of a Missouri law requiring that petitions bear the official ballot wording.

But Secretary of State Jason Kander is counting the petitions. He said Tuesday that an after-the-fact change in the summary should not overturn the will of the petition signers.

The other lawsuit contends the proposal violates the Missouri Constitution by how it raises and spends money.

The measure would raise the cigarette tax from 17 to 77 cents a pack and impose additional fees on some brands.

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