When voters go to the June 5, 2012 primary election in California, they will be deciding more than just the republican nominee for president. California Proposition 29, or the Tobacco Tax for Cancer Research Act, will also be voted on to determine if the tax on cigarettes should increase by $1.00 per pack. Other tobacco products will also have a tax increase. As you can imagine the advertisements for and against the proposition are strong as there has not been a tax increase on tobacco since 2000.
If the proposition passes, a nine-member committee, comprised of medical doctors, researchers and health advocates, will be established to administer the funds for research and facilities focusing on cancer research projects and other tobacco-related diseases such as emphysema. Tobacco law enforcement and smoking reduction projects would also be included under the proposition.
The new tax is expected to bring in between $700 and $800 million per year and cancer and tobacco attributed disease research will receive 60% of the money. Facilities and equipment to support research will receive 15% of the money. Tobacco education and cessation programs will receive 20% of the total. Three percent of the total will go toward law enforcement to help police stop tobacco smuggling as well as enforce tobacco laws, such as illegal tobacco product sales to minors. Administrative expenses will be limited to 2% annually, and voters will know how the money is being spent through audits. Current programs receiving tobacco tax revenue, such as Proposition 99, Proposition 10, the General Fund and Breast Cancer programs, will receive approximately $75 million annually to continue.
Supporters have contributed over $5.5 million towards the campaign as of May 10, including $1.5 million from the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Major tobacco companies, who are bankrolling the opposition against Proposition 29 to the tune of $39.9 million as of May 7 (Philip Morris contributed more than $23 million), say there are problems with the measure. The money raised would be administered by bureaucratic appointees, and would add to government when there is already a $10 billion deficit in the state budget. According to opponents, the state constitution requires that 40% of new tax revenue should go to schools and this measure skirts the requirements. Opponents also claim the money raised would leave the state of California, and not create jobs in the state.