PROP 28: San Jose Mercury News Urges Readers to ‘Vote No’
The editors of the San Jose Mercury News argue that a newly proposed proposition to repeal the current tax on cigarettes "would be a real shame for the children of California." Voters passed Proposition 10 as a referendum in November 1998. It levies a 50-cents-per-pack tax on all cigarettes sold in the state of California. The editors contend, "When cigarette prices go up, people quit smoking -- especially teens and lower-income adults." As a result the tax "will mean fewer smokers buying fewer cigarettes and fewer customers for all retailers." The new ballot initiative -- Proposition 28 -- is sponsored by the Roscoe family, which owns a chain of 550 cigarette stores named "Cigarettes Cheaper!" The editorial states, "We understand why Ned and John Roscoe want to repeal Proposition 10. They are in the business of selling cheap cigarettes."
Feather in Roscoe's Cap
In its repeal of Proposition 10, Proposition 28 would also outlaw any future tobacco tax initiatives, and Ned Roscoe, the editors contend, "thinks passing Proposition 28 would be a nice present for smokers." Roscoe said, "It would be a real feather in our cap if we could do this for our customers," the editors report. Cigarette taxes are greatly needed, the editors write, arguing that the revenues generated provide residents with affordable child care, such as immunizations, parenting classes and home visits for newborn babies. "If Proposition 28 passes, all this work will end and we'll be left with a bunch of wish lists without any way to pay for the needed services," the editorial asserts. Some proponents of Proposition 28 say tobacco tax places a disproportionate burden on low-income people, and that it is not fair to tax smokers to pay for children's health care programs. The editors maintain, however, that it is likely that most of the money from the cigarette tax is "spent on low- income children," and although it is "true that tobacco taxes hit the poor the hardest ... [s]o do the health effects of smoking." The editors conclude, "That makes it all the more important to vote 'No' on Proposition 28 on March 7" (1/4).