Voters Reject Tobacco Tax Measure
California voters on Tuesday rejected Proposition 86, the proposed tobacco tax measure, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 11/8).
Proposition 86 would have increased the state tobacco tax by $2.60 per pack of cigarettes, raising the average cost to about $7. Revenue from the tax would include funding for emergency services at hospitals, expansion of health insurance for children and anti-tobacco programs.
Supporters included the California Hospital Association, the American Cancer Society and the California Emergency Nurses Association. Supporters said that the tax increase is "the best way to combat the detrimental effects smoking is having on our health care system."
The tobacco industry led opposition to the measure. Opponents said that the tax was unfair because the largest percentage of the revenue would fund hospitals and not anti-smoking programs (DelVecchio, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/8).
With 100% of precincts reporting, 47.9% of Californians voted in favor of Proposition 86, while 52.1% voted 'no' on the tax increase (Secretary of State Web site, 11/8).
The measure generated broad public support in polls earlier this year, but support declined as tobacco companies increased campaign spending (Halper/Warren, Los Angeles Times, 11/8).
The tobacco industry raised more than $58 million to campaign against the measure.
The Yes on 86 campaign raised $13 million and spent $1.7 million in the first three weeks of October, compared with the tobacco companies spending $10 million during the same period.
No on 86 campaign spokesperson Carla Hass said that the election results show that Proposition 86 "is nothing more than a money grab by special interests -- meaning hospital corporations -- to fund their bottom line."
Ted Lempert -- president of Children Now, a supporter of the measure -- said that "the advertising had a huge impact," adding, "We faced a full onslaught from the tobacco industry" (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/8).