Opposing Campaign Criticizes Tobacco Tax Measure
Opponents of Proposition 86 -- a measure on the November statewide ballot to increase the state tobacco tax by $2.60 per pack to fund health programs -- are concerned that the initiative would violate antitrust laws, the San Mateo Daily Journal reports. Opponents include the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).
Carla Hass, a spokesperson for the No on Proposition 86 campaign, characterized the measure as a "money grab by corporations who have written into the initiative language that would exempt them from antitrust laws."
Hass criticized the measure for "being marketed as an anti-smoking campaign" when "only a small fraction of the money goes to smoking related programs" and nearly "half" of the remaining funds would go "toward big hospital corporations' bottom lines." Hass added that under the initiative corporations "could shut down pediatric units [or] limit services" without facing penalties.
Opponents also are concerned the measure would lead to future tax increases to fund programs created by the measure and an increase in cigarette trafficking.
Supporters of the measure say revenue generated by the tax would be reinvested in health care programs and safeguards would be put in place to ensure the funding goes where voters intend. Advocates of the tax include the American Cancer Society and American Lung Association, as well as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides.
The Yes on Proposition 86 campaign also noted an independent Department of Health Services study that found "the tax increase would save lives, prevent 700,000 children from picking up smoking and help half a million adults to quit" (Warecki, San Mateo Daily Journal, 8/14).