PROPOSITION 28: Receives Backing From Cigarette Discounters
Fueling the campaign for Proposition 28, which would repeal the 50-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes, are two unlikely anti-political mavericks, John Roscoe and his son, Ned, who own more than 523 discount cigarettes stores nationwide. The two originally became famous for their convenience store "bagatorials," opinions written on the side of grocery bags. Some bagatorials include "taxation is theft" and "the health care system is working just fine without government intervention." In September 1993, one bagatorial read, "Warning: 51,605,900 adult Americans smoke. That's 7,877,525 more people ... than voted for Clinton in ... 1992." The Roscoes oppose big government and have been critical of the Children and Families Commission and the 58 county commissions set up to distribute the $680 million that the cigarette tax generates annually, arguing that they have been too slow in allocating the proceeds. Although the tax has sent many smokers to their discount stores, the Roscoes are opposed to a tax on their customers. The Roscoes currently have a lawsuit pending in San Diego County Superior Court charging that the tax is unconstitutional and the commission is "a de facto agency lacking state oversight." To date, the Roscoes estimate that they have spent $1 million in the effort to get Proposition 28 on the March 7 ballot. That proposal, in addition to repealing the tax, would prevent future taxes without legislative approval. Despite spending a large sum to get the proposal on the ballot, both are uncertain if they will actually vote. If they do, it will mark the first time Ned has ever cast a ballot and the first time since Nixon ran that John has voted (Pyle, Los Angeles Times, 12/28).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.