SANTA BARBARA – Cigarettes and other tobacco products could cost even more if voters approve Proposition 29 which is the tax to support cancer research.
"What it is, is you're putting a dollar tax on a pack of cigarettes," said Jayne Brechwald, public health advocate and former executive director of the American Lung Association in Santa Barbara.
The $1 breaks down to $0.05 per cigarette in a pack. That additional money would go towards cancer research, including detection and prevention of heart disease and emphysema.
"One in three people who have cancer are caused by smoking and there are a lot of other smoking related illnesses that this money will actually go for research," said Brechwald.
David Spady, state director of Americans for Prosperity said cancer research is a worthwhile cause but now is not the time to raise taxes.
"So at a time when we have major budget issues in California, we're talking about raising money from the tax payers of California and spending it on something that may or may not be something we want to prioritize those dollars on," said Spady.
The last time tobacco taxes were increased was in 1998 when $0.50 was tacked on per pack for early childhood development programs. In total, there are four existing state tobacco excise taxes totaling $0.87 per pack.
Proposition 29 would increase current excise tax revenues to about $735 million annually by fiscal year 2013-2014.
"We're out there to save lives, I mean that's the whole intention," said Brechwald.
"We need to prioritize at times when we don't have the revenues that we may want to have for things like that and spend them on things that are most important to us right now," said Spady.
Click here for the California State Voter Information Guide: http://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2012/primary/pdf/english/complete.pdf
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