Tobacco Tax Measure Drawing Mixed Opinions
Proposition 86, the proposed state tobacco tax, is receiving mixed opinions from Ventura County officials, hospitals and organizations, the Ventura County Star reports. A county supervisor and local hospital favor the tax increase, while the United Way remains neutral (Hoops, Ventura County Star, 10/17).
Proposition 86 would increase the state tobacco tax by $2.60 per pack of cigarettes, raising the tax to the highest level in the nation. The average price of a pack of cigarettes would increase to $6.55 (California Healthline, 10/16).
The California Department of Health Services estimates that the measure would deter 700,000 youths from taking up smoking.
Steven Bennett, Ventura County supervisor, said he favors the measure because the revenue will help maintain hospital emergency departments.
Gary Wilde, CEO of Community Memorial Hospital, also said the measure would help keep EDs and trauma centers open.
David Smith, president and CEO of United Way of Ventura County, said he maintains a neutral stance on the tax increase because it is unfair to penalize one population, those who smoke. Smith also said there was concern about how the increase would affect small retailers (Ventura County Star, 10/17).
Proposition 86 would certainly "reduce the number of smokers -- especially young smokers -- now and in the future," but it also is "bound to create a black market in cigarettes" and provide an "unreliable revenue source" for health services, a Santa Rosa Press Democrat editorial states. The Press Democrat recommends that voters support the measure because its "positive outcomes outweigh these concerns" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 10/16).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.