Tobacco Companies Lead Spending on Proposed Tax Increase
With one week before the Nov. 7 election, tobacco companies have contributed $61.5 million thus far into a campaign against Proposition 86, while supporters of the measure have reported raising $13.9 million, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Proposition 86 would increase the state tobacco tax to $3.47 per pack of cigarettes to fund health care and other programs.
Philip Morris USA and its parent company, Altria Group, have contributed $34 million through Thursday. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco has given $22.8 million.
Major contributors to the campaign supporting the tax increase include:
- American Cancer Society, $2.2 million;
- American Heart Association, $682,000;
- American Lung Association, $288,000; and the
- California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, $10 million.
Summaries of two opinion pieces addressing Proposition 86 appear below.
- Andrew Chamberlain and Patrick Fleenor, Los Angeles Times: Proposition 86 is a "shockingly regressive tax on the state's poorest residents," Chamberlain and Fleenor, economists at the Tax Foundation in Washington, write in a Times opinion piece. The authors cite research indicating that "smokers are mostly hurting themselves and not others in society," noting that smokers are disproportionately the state's poorest residents. According to Chamberlain and Fleenor, raising the state tobacco tax will not encourage state residents to stop smoking but will instead result in a "boom" in the number of cigarettes purchased out of state or in tax-free venues (Chamberlain/Fleenor, Los Angeles Times, 10/28).
- Matt Schumsky, Orange County Register: A higher cigarette tax would "redirect, rather than reduce, cigarette purchases," Schumsky of the think tank Freedomworks in Washington, D.C., writes in a Register opinion piece. The proposed tax would increase tax-free sales online and on Indian reservations, as well as increase illegal smuggling from low-tax states, Schumsky writes. "Money will flow to criminals and out-of-state retailers, and California taxpayers will be left holding the bag for programs that smokers were counted on to pay for," he writes (Schumsky, Orange County Register, 10/30).