CNA To Remain Neutral on Use of Tobacco Tax for Private Hospital Funding
The California Nurses Association plans to remain neutral on a proposed ballot measure that would increase the state's tobacco tax by $2.60 per pack to fund children's health care and emergency services, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The measure could appear on the November 2006 ballot.
The initiative, which is supported by the hospital industry and children's and cancer groups, is expected to generate about $2.27 billion annually, although supporters acknowledge that revenue will decrease over time as smoking rates decrease. The measure also would provide funding for nursing education and anti-smoking programs.
Proponents of the tax increase say it would provide health insurance for an estimated 800,000 uninsured children in the state.
However, CNA questions whether low- and middle-income smokers should be taxed to fund emergency services at private hospitals.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has not taken a position on the measure (Davis/Kurtzman, San Jose Mercury News, 12/18).
An editorial in the Orange County Register "urge[s] Californians not to sign petitions" to place the tobacco tax measure on the ballot because "sky-high cigarette taxes spawn extensive black-market activity."
The Register states, "[T]he health groups sponsoring this initiative should end their efforts," adding, "Black markets and gang activities, too, are health hazards" (Orange County Register, 12/19).