Voters defeat cigarette tax as 'big tobacco' wins in Oregon

A key legislative supporter of Measure 50, which was headed to defeat in the special election that ended Tuesday, says her plan to insure more children in Oregon will come back, but probably not until the 2009 legislative session.

Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, who sponsored the bill that later became Measure 50, said Tuesday night that she was disappointed in the election results.

'Big tobacco is the big winner and kids in the state of Oregon are the big losers,' Monnes Anderson said, adding, 'The fight isn't over. We definitely are going to look at what we can do to make sure that children in Oregon get the access to health care that they need.'

Measure 50, which was dubbed the Healthy Kids Plan, would have raised cigarette taxes by 84.5 cents per pack and used the proceeds to provide health coverage to more than 100,000 uninsured children.

However, opponents of the measure, led by tobacco companies that spent a record $12 million on the campaign, argued that the tax should not be placed in the Oregon Constitution and that it was unfair for smokers to be targeted to pay for a program that benefits others.

In early returns, Measure 50 was being rejected by a margin of 59 percent to 41 percent, with 54 percent of the expected vote counted. The tax was passing in Multnomah County, but losing in most of the rest of the state.

Monnes Anderson does not anticipate the Legislature taking up the Healthy Kids plan in the 2008 special legislative session, but said it will have to wait until 2009.

All results are unofficial until certified by voter services.

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