American Cancer Society vows to sue over tobacco tax diversion

By Chris Rizo | Apr 21, 2008

Terry Goddard

PHOENIX, Ariz. (Legal Newsline)-Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard could be in court to defend a state Capitol plan to use designated tobacco tax funds to help balance the state budget.

The American Cancer Society contends that a deal between Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano and Republican lawmakers runs roughshod over a provision of the state Constitution that bars state lawmakers from re-appropriating voter-approved funds.

Colby Bower, spokesman for the American Cancer Society, told Legal Newsline Monday that if the governor's office does not back away from the plan the American Cancer Society and other stakeholders are prepared to take the state to court.

"We're pretty confident that this is just a mistake and the governor's office is working on this and is fixing it," Bower said. "But if it's not, we're prepared to go to court."

The proposal calls for redirecting $2 million from the tobacco tax fund, which is specifically protected by Proposition 105, Bower said.

If the plan to redirect the tobacco tax funds is not jettisoned, the American Cancer Society would sue the state along with the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association to block its implementation, Bower said.

The funds in question flow into state coffers from a 60 cents per-pack tobacco tax increase approved in 2002, as well as from an earlier cigarette tax increase.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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