Debate Continues Between Tobacco Tax Supporters, Opponents
Tobacco companies "are fighting" the tobacco tax measure on the November ballot "with the message that corporate interests stand to gain" if it is approved, but "so far ... no single corporate interest has poured more money into campaigning" than cigarette makers, the Sacramento Bee reports. Proposition 86 would increase the state cigarette tax by $2.60 per pack to fund health programs, including hospital emergency department operations and children's health insurance.
Tobacco companies have raised about $40 million for the No on 86 campaign, and a coalition of anti-cancer groups, children's advocates and hospitals have raised about $11 million in support of the measure.
According to Bob Stern, president of the not-for-profit Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, both sides stand to gain or lose financially depending on the outcome of the measure. Stern said tobacco companies are "going to spend a lot of money because they're going to save a lot of money if this goes down." He added, "It's an investment for the hospitals as well because they will see a return" if the measure passes.
Meanwhile, "[e]ach side is accusing the other of throwing up a smoke screen to deceive voters," the Bee reports (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 9/9).
Proposition 86 "offers a strange potluck of aims, and its core is the hospitals' desire for money," a Bee editorial states.
According to the Bee, "Hospitals know what their real solution is" for addressing ED funding problems: "Change a state law so that hospitals can hire their own [ED] physicians rather than depend on freelancing practitioners who can extract huge fees." However, the "doctors' lobby, which has much deeper pockets than the hospitals, has fought this sensible solution for years," the Bee writes.
The Bee recommends a "No" vote on the measure (Sacramento Bee, 9/11).