Tobacco Firms Step Up Efforts To Defeat Cigarette Tax Hike Measure California Healthline
April 27, 2012
Tobacco companies — including Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds –
are spending tens of millions of dollars to try to defeat
Proposition 29, a June ballot initiative that would increase the
state’s tobacco sales tax by $1 per pack, the San Jose Mercury
The current tobacco tax is 87 cents per pack. The state allocates
50 cents of that amount for First 5 early childhood health and
Ballot Initiative Details
Prop. 29 was written by the American Cancer Society, the American
Heart Association and the American Lung Association.
Supporters of the initiative say the tax increase would generate
about $600 million annually to fund research on smoking-related
conditions such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.
They note that it also would produce $179 million each year for
tobacco cessation, prevention and enforcement initiatives.
Efforts To Defeat Prop. 29
So far, tobacco companies have spent $21 million — including
$8.9 million in the past month alone — on efforts to defeat
Prop. 29. The tobacco industry’s spending could outpace the $66
million it spent in 2006 to defeat another tobacco tax hike
initiative, according to the Mercury News.
A coalition opposed to the tax hike proposal, called Californians
Against Out-of-Control Taxes and Spending, has begun airing
television and radio advertisements that focus on a provision of
the proposal that would let out-of-state groups bid on research
In the ads, a Sacramento-area physician warns that the ballot
measure would create “a huge new research bureaucracy with no
accountability run by political appointees who can spend our tax
dollars out of state.”
Support for the Measure
Meanwhile, the health care groups backing the ballot measure have
raised $2.5 million in support of the proposal.
They say the real motive behind the tobacco industry’s ads is to
preserve the tobacco market in California.
Health care advocates say that nearly all of the research funding
would be spent in the state but that they wanted to keep the
research bidding process open to avoid accusations of cronyism.
Outlook for Prop. 29
Tracy Westen — CEO of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los
Angeles — said that heavy spending on efforts to encourage
voters to reject a ballot measure tends to be effective because
voters already are inclined to vote no on ballot initiatives.
However, he said it is more challenging to defeat initiatives
when voters are knowledgeable about the issues.
Westen said, “Generally, Californians tend to oppose smoking and
support restrictions, so the cigarette industry will have to
spend their advertising budget talking about other issues.”
California voters have not approved a tobacco tax hike in 14
years, the Mercury News reports.
However, a survey last month by the Public Policy Institute of
California found that 67% of likely voters support the tobacco