“Tobacco Protests” Could Spread All Across Montana
HELENA – October 3, 2018
Hundreds of people in Montana are opposing the efforts of Big Tobacco to throw away the ballot initiative that would raise the price of a pack of cigarettes by $2, with the extra money being used to pay for Medicaid expansion in the state.
As has become publicly known, tobacco companies have already spent no less than $3.5 million to do so, among them — Reynolds American Inc., which has spent $250,000. No other ballot initiative in the history of Montana has ever been as well-financed as the opposition to Ballot Initiative 185, so locals are really angry about it.
The supporters of the ballot initiative say that such measures would help deter people from becoming tobacco users and keep nearly 100,000 Montanans covered by Medicaid expansion, as well as pay for other health programs.
Opponents, in their turn, argue that this will be just an additional tax that predominately targets people with lower-income, and also that the money will not pay for everything the initiative promises, so it’s just a populist measure and nothing more.
Experts support the people, not the companies.
One of the “lobbyists” for the initiative is the American Heart Association. Their spokeswoman Amanda Cahill has criticized the amount of money that has been put by tobacco companies into the effort to defeat the initiative.
“This is not how democracy is supposed to work,” she says.
“With I-185, the citizens of Montana have the opportunity to say that we’re tired of picking up the tab for Big Tobacco’s impact on rising health care costs. If you see opposition messages to I-185, follow the money directly to the world’s largest tobacco corporations,” Cahill said.
Groups of protesters are ready to organize rallies against tobacco companies tearing the state’s health system apart. There were already protests in August, yet, since this “controversial” (from the companies’ point of view) initiative is still being widely discussed, we might expect a new wave of protests all over Montana pretty soon.