PROPOSITION 10: Voter Opposition Growing, But Still Likely To Pass
Opposition to Proposition 10 is growing, according to a Field Poll released this weekend. The survey found that Prop. 10, the initiative that would increase the price of cigarette packs by 50 cents and use the estimated $700 million in revenue to fund early childhood intervention programs, still leads 50%-41%, with 9% of voters undecided. Earlier this month, the initiative had a 48% to 33% edge, with 19% undecided ( see CHL 10/23). The most recent Field Poll of 678 likely voters had a margin of error of +/- 4% (Hettena, AP/Capitol Alert, 11/2). A Los Angeles County survey, however, found that nearly half of California teenagers surveyed would cut back or attempt to quit smoking if Prop. 10's 50-cent increase went into effect. The county Health Department surveyed 400 teenagers, finding that 9% would quit immediately, 16% would try to quit and 23% would cut down on smoking. Health officials estimated that the additional cigarette taxes mandated by Prop. 10 "would ultimately lead to 75,000 fewer adolescents smoking, preventing 24,000 premature deaths among young people in the county," which would save the county $1 billion in health spending. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said, "We are in a war with the tobacco industry for the heart and the minds of teenagers" (Riccardi, Los Angeles Times, 10/30).
Resistance Isn't Futile
Proposition 10 backers urged voters not to be swayed by the campaign against the ballot measure. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said, "I intend to vote for Proposition 10 and I urge voters to ignore the $28 million campaign waged against this initiative by the tobacco industry. The funds raised by this initiative will make a significant investment in improving the early childhood development for every youngster in California" (Feinstein release, 10/29). The American Lung Association released a statement saying "California voters are being subjected to misleading commercials and direct-mail brochures about Proposition 10, which are paid for by the tobacco industry to deliberately cloud the intent and structure of the public health initiative" (release, 10/30). Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan (R), state Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa (D-Los Angeles), the California Teachers Association and the California State PTA released a joint statement "urging voters not to be tricked by tobacco industry ads claiming, in the face of endorsement by every major education organization in California, that Proposition 10 would harm schools." Villaraigosa said, "The tobacco companies don't care who they exploit or how many lies they tell as long as they continue to make outrageous profits. Now, in order to maintain those profits, they are practicing the worst kind of wedge politics by attempting to pit the interests of school children against those of pre-schoolers" (release, 10/30).