Prop. 29 Losing Voter Support, Though Cigarette Tax Remains Popular

Categories: Politics

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"It's toasted."
What can you get for $42 million?

A penthouse apartment at the top of the St. Regis. Six years of Adonal Foyle. Roy Lichtenstein's peephole painting.

Also, a 14 percent drop in support for Proposition 29, which would raise the cigarette tax and fund cancer research.

In March, a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that 67 percent of California voters supported Prop 29. This week, after two months of campaigning, a new PPIC poll showed that just 53 percent supported the ballot measure.

Perhaps a chunk of California voters have come to the realization that raising a cigarette pack's price by $1 to pump an annual $735 million into cancer research isn't a sensible thing to do.

Or perhaps the onslaught of Big Tobacco-funded media time has muddied the issue and changed minds using bonus-word rhetoric such as "bureaucracy," "political appointees," and "our tax dollars."

Supporters of the measure have contributed $11.1 million to the campaign in favor of Prop 29. Opponents have donated $42.7 million to the campaign against it.

The anti-29 rhetoric has been effective. How do we know this? Voters are not necessarily turning against raising the cigarette tax; voters are simply turning against Prop. 29. According to PPIC's polling, there is a disconnect between how voters feel about Prop. 29 and how they actually feel about a cigarette tax. Though 53 percent professed support for Prop. 29, 63 percent were in favor of "increasing taxes on cigarette purchases," which is the same percentage as in the March poll.

Those "No on 29" radio and TV ads, of course, aren't anything innovative, just the classic political issue persuasion attempt. The top radio one, for instance, mentions about how we don't need another Big Government Tax-Hike, don't need more money wasted on inefficient Government Bureaucracy. It does not mention a single word about cigarettes.

One of the TV ads features a white-coated woman-- Dr. La Donna Porter, M.D. -- who says that she was in favor of Prop. 29 (just like you!), until she learned that "not one penny" goes toward cancer treatment. "Instead it creates a huge new research bureaucracy."

Supporters of the proposal note that the money is going to research and not treatment because the cure for cancer has not been found.

The top of the donor list for Prop. 29 include the American Cancer Foundation ($7.4 million), the Lance Armstrong Foundation ($1.5 million), the American Heart Association ($546,000), and billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($500,000), whose campaign against cigarettes has helped bring his city the strictest smoking regulations and highest tobacco taxes in the country (it'll cost you $15 for a pack in Manhattan).

The top of the other donor list reals like a Potential Clients to Target board at Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price: Altria/Philip Morris ($24 million), R.J. Reynolds ($11 million), Smokeless Tobacco ($2.6 million), Reynolds-division American Snuff Company ($1.75 million), Reynolds-division Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company ($1.1 million), and the California Republican Party ($1.1 million).

Prop. 29 will be on the presidential primary ballot on June 5.

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6 comments
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Guest12
Guest12

Your chance to beat Tobacco and your worried about where the money is going. Less people smoking less cancer floating around. Higher cigarette prices wont stop smokers from smoking they;ll just cough up more lungs for their fix..

< Online job, make $60/h, link
< Online job, make $60/h, link

 Creative powers can just as easily turn out to be destructive. It rests solely with the moral personality whether they apply themselves to good things or to bad. And if this is lacking, no teacher can supply it or take its place

mayalibre
mayalibre

My negative reaction to this Proposition is different than most. I think when you create new agencies, those agencies naturally want to thrive and grow. But in this case it means the agency's incentive would be to KEEP people smoking, or to encourage MORE smokers, because smokers are the "source" of their funding!!!  No agency wants its income to go down, it doesn't happen. I'm all for finding ways to reduce smoking, but this is not the way. Turning the people you say you want to help into your prey doesn't actually help them.

Tlynch41
Tlynch41

 My big question is: why do you need to start a whole new bureaucracy with all the direct and indirect labor costs,   overhead, G&A, etc, when you can just give the money to the American Lung Assoc and have them manage it?  This issue alone makes this prop doomed to fail.

The Good Doctor, In Name Only
The Good Doctor, In Name Only

California State Universities had a 2012 budget cut of $750 million.  Community Colleges?  $564 million...

Put the money where it will help the most.  Education.  Prop 29 is a joke.

scurvy
scurvy

I'm all for cigarette taxes, but against prop 29. I just don't agree with where the funds will go. I don't think it's California's job to try and fund all this research. Let the private sector or the federal government deal with it. I would like to see the money go to defray the public cost of treating people with lung, mouth, and throat cancer. Charge them $1/pack and think of it as a downpayment towards future treatment. 

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