PROPOSITION 10: Alameda County Draws Up Wish List
Even as lawsuits have been filed challenging the legality of Proposition 10, which levied a 50-cent-per-pack cigarette tax to benefit health and social programs for children, an Alameda County commission is gearing up to finalize its wish list for the $20 million it expects to see each year from the tax, the Alameda Times-Star reports. The nine-member California Children and Families First Commission, created by the initiative, is preparing to meet with the public and hash out the details. Wilma Chan, president of the board of supervisors and committee member, said, "With maximum community input, we want to weave together the new with what's already in place." The initial check of $12 million will mark the beginning of the county's efforts to improve and expand existing programs with the funds. The county's intention is to create programs that will center on health care, social services, parenting and substance abuse, in light of recent research uncovering some "grim conditions." According to recent studies, one-third of the 20,000 births in Alameda County in 1997 "were to low income mothers and almost half" were the women's first babies. Nearly 1,400 infants that year had low birthweights, and research found that the infant mortality rate for African Americans was 50% higher than that of other infants. In addition, the county ranks second in the state for the highest rate of substance abuse by pregnant mothers, which can lead to low birthweight and infant mortality. A testament to Alameda County's program: observers have touted it as a model for other communities seeking to appropriate similar tobacco rewards. The first commission meeting will be held Thursday (8/23).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.