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Tobacco tax ballot measure has opponents up in smoke

Opponents of a ballot measure that would raise tobacco taxes by $2.60 a pack have launched their first TV ads. One of the spots claims the initiative would allow hospitals to restrict services to patients. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has the story.

Prop 86 would use a portion of the new tobacco tax to fund hospital emergency rooms. But opponents claim the measure has a hidden agenda. They say it would exempt hospitals from anti-trust laws, and allow facilities to deny care.

Yes on 86 spokeswoman Maria Robles says the intent is exactly the opposite.

Robles: It's a part of the initiative that calls for a very narrow provision related to on-call specialists. It is intended to allow hospitals to plan and coordinate emergency room services throughout our community.

Supporters of Prop 86 include hospitals and the American Lung Association. Opponents are backed by tobacco giant RJ Reynolds and the Cigar Association of America.

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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