COUNTY ISSUE 8 - Proposed Extension of Excise Tax on Cigarettes for Cuyahoga Arts and Culture

Shall an excise tax on the sale of cigarettes at wholesale continue to be levied throughout Cuyahoga County for the benefit of Cuyahoga Arts and Culture for the purposes of making grants to support operating or capital expenses of arts or cultural organizations in Cuyahoga County, to defray the costs of acquiring, constructing, equipping, furnishing, improving, enlarging, renovating, remodeling or maintaining an artistic or cultural facility, and to meet operating expenses, at a rate of 15 mills per cigarette, which amounts to 1.5 cents per cigarette, for 10 years?

YES      NO

A majority affirmative vote is necessary for passage.

LWV PLAINSPEAK: Should a tax on the sale of cigarettes in Cuyahoga County be renewed, so that it can continue supporting the work of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) over the next 10 years? The tax amounts to 1.5 cents per cigarette purchased. CAC awards grants to arts or cultural organizations, which use the money to help meet operating expenses or to help with the purchase, remodeling, equipping, or maintenance of their facilities.

PRO: Since its start-up in 2006, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) financial support has been an important factor in the improved economic development of a newly vibrant downtown. Playhouse Square has especially benefited from its support. CAC has also contributed to childhood enrichment and education through classes, workshops, fieldtrips, internships and fellowships to local artists. This tax is a renewal, not a new tax, and it is the only revenue stream in greater Cleveland for public support of the arts—defeat of the ballot issue would immediately terminate all existing public support countywide. 

CON: This and other “sin taxes” are disproportionately paid by the county’s poorest residents, in order to support activities engaged in primarily by the county’s wealthier arts patrons who could afford to support such activities privately. Also, CAC supports big, well established institutions like the Cleveland Museum of Art, where it could better give a boost to more under-the-radar enterprises and startups. An unintended consequence of reliance on the cigarette tax may even cause a setback in the community’s effort to discourage cigarette smoking.

League of Women Voters

The League of Women Voters has compiled information for each of the issues that Heights voters will be voting on in November.

For your information:

  • The title listed for each issue is the official title assigned by the Ohio Ballot Board.
  • Summaries of each issue immediately following the official ballot wording originated from material issued by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections or, in the case of Issue 53, citations from the resolution submitted to the Cuyahoga Board of Elections by the Cleveland Heights City Council. 
  • LEAGUE PLAINSPEAK summaries of the state and county ballot issues were prepared by members of the League of Women Voters of Ohio Education Fund and The League of Women Voters - Cuyahoga County.
  • The pros and cons listed for each issue are abbreviated versions of the arguments put forward by the respective issue campaigns.

The League of Women Voters is a national non-partisan organization that supports or opposes issues it studies, but does not endorse candidates.

To view LWV positions on current issues, visit

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 9:39 AM, 10.01.2015