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Oklahoma Supreme Court rules against cigarette tax

[JURIST] The Oklahoma Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] against a state cigarette tax [text] on Thursday. The plaintiffs—cigarette companies, distributors, and smokers—argued that the $1.50 tax violated the state constitution. The majority agreed, saying that since the tax was a revenue bill, it must originate in the House, be passed at least five days before the legislative session ended, and be approved by either the public or 75 percent of each house. In this case, the Senate created the tax and approved it on the last day of the session. The bill also did not gain 75 percent of the vote, rendering it unconstitutional.

Cigarettes continue to be a serious health and legal issue around the world. Last month Philip Morris was ordered to to pay [JURIST report] legal fees to the Australian government. In May 2016 the EU Court of Justice upheld [JURIST report] EU rules that will require health warnings to cover 65 percent of a cigarette pack. In June 2015 a judge for the Quebec Superior Court awarded over $15 billion [JURIST report] in damages to Quebec smokers in a case against tobacco companies JTI-Macdonald, Imperial Tobacco, and Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, making this the largest award for damages and the biggest class action lawsuit in Canada's history. In May 2014 the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld the dismissal [JURIST report] of a consolidated lawsuit brought against various tobacco companies.

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