Patient Advocates Say Proposed Tobacco Tax Initiative Provides Inadequate Funds for Lung Cancer Research
Some advocates for lung cancer patients say research for the disease would be underfunded by a proposed ballot initiative to increase the tobacco tax by $2.60 per pack, the Sacramento Bee reports (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 12/24/05).
The proposed initiative, which is supported by the California Hospital Association and a coalition of children's and cancer groups, is expected to generate about $2.27 billion annually, although supporters say that revenue will decrease over time as smoking rates decrease. The measure also would provide funding for emergency services, children's health care, nursing education, anti-smoking programs and other disease research and prevention programs (California Healthline, 12/14/05).
The majority of revenue from the proposed tax would fund emergency medical services and children's health care, while disease research programs would receive $105 million. About 2% of the total projected tax revenue, or $47 million, would be used for tobacco-related and lung disease research.
However, some advocates say that because the tax is on cigarettes, more money should be used for diseases caused by tobacco products rather than other cancers that have little or no link to tobacco use.
Those who drafted the initiative defend the funding formula, noting that an additional $213 million generated by the tax will be used for state and local tobacco control programs, including antismoking campaigns (Sacramento Bee, 12/24/05).
In related news, tobacco-tax revenue in California has increased to more than $124 million over the past 20 months -- even as smoking rates decline in the state -- in part because of a new program that stamps cigarettes with a counterfeit-proof sticker, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Investigators using a hand-held device can scan cigarette packs to determine whether distributors paid required state taxes, if the cigarettes are licensed for sale and where the products came from. The new program has led to the sting operations busting "scores of smugglers and retailers" and the seizure of "millions" of illegal cigarettes, the Times reports.
The current state tobacco tax is 87 cents per pack (Halper, Los Angeles Times, 12/27/05).
APM's "Marketplace Morning Report" on Dec. 27, 2005, reported on the tobacco tax collection program (Grech, "Marketplace Morning Report," APM, 12/27). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.