California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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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