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California Senator Calls for Tobacco Tax Hike To Shore Up State Budget

On Tuesday, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Van Nuys) proposed increasing the state tobacco tax by $1.50 per pack of cigarettes to provide money for the state general fund, anti-smoking efforts and lung cancer research, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Padilla's office estimates that the tax hike would yield about $1.4 billion annually.  Eighty-five percent of the revenue would go to California's general fund (Zapler, San Jose Mercury News, 3/10).

The other 15% would go to lung cancer research, anti-smoking efforts and tobacco control programs (Bailey/McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 3/11) (News low in story).

Padilla also introduced bills that would:

  • Ban tobacco sales within 1,000 feet of schools and "settings where children are commonly present without adult supervision," such as video stores and doughnut shops (San Jose Mercury News, 3/10);
  • Limit the number of state licenses to sell tobacco; and
  • Permit authorities to revoke tobacco licenses for retailers who are repeatedly cited for selling tobacco to teenagers (Shadley, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 3/10).

Key supporters of the proposals include:

  • Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento);
  • The American Cancer Society; and
  • The American Lung Association.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has not reviewed the proposal, but a Schwarzenegger spokesperson said that in general, the governor does not think taxes should be increased further at this time (San Jose Mercury News, 3/10).

Other Tobacco Tax Hikes

Assembly member Tom Torlakson has introduced legislation that would increase the state tobacco tax by $2.10 per of pack of cigarettes.  Torlakson's proposal would generate about $2 billion annually, with proceeds divided among education, children's health care and smoking-cessation programs (Los Angeles Times, 3/11) (News low in story).

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