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San Diego Unified School Board Says Proposition 56 Will Reduce Teen Smoking

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education has given its stamp of approval on Proposition 56, the tobacco tax measure opponents say will cheat schools.

Photo credit: DLSimaging via Compfight

An unidentified teenage girl is seen smoking in this undated photograph.

It's not every day that the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education weighs in on a statewide ballot proposition. But at its general meeting this week, the board unanimously endorsed Proposition 56.

Proposition 56 would raise California’s tobacco tax by $2 a pack.

The tax hike would generate more than $1 billion annually. Most of that money would go to the Medi-Cal program. A portion of the new tax revenue would support the state's anti-smoking efforts.

Tobacco companies, the major backers of the No on 56 campaign, say the measure would cheat public schools out of at least $600 million a year.

San Diego Unified School Board President Michael McQuary said that’s absurd.

“I have no idea where that’s coming from," McQuary said. "I know the motive behind it. The motive is they want to sell cigarettes, and whatever they can say to discredit the effort, they will do that.”

McQuary said Proposition 56 will make cigarettes more expensive, which he said will dissuade more kids from picking up the habit.

California's tobacco tax stands at 87 cents a pack — 36 other states have higher tobacco taxes than California.

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