Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Cigarette Tax Hike For Cancer Research Trails


Proponents of the state ballot initiative to increase the cigarette tax by $1 a pack say uncounted ballots could yet turn the tide. They were outspent by about four to one by tobacco companies.

The "no" vote finished ahead by about 51 to 49 percent, a 60,000-vote difference out of some 3.8 million cast.

The measure asked voters whether to increase the cigarette tax by a dollar, from $0.87 to $1.87, with the additional revenue going to cancer research, anti-smoking programs and tobacco law enforcement.

About $735 million a year would be generated from the measure, with $468 million annually going to cancer research, according to the California Legislative Analyst's Office.

The measure would also will establish The California Cancer Research Act Oversight Committee, a nine-member governing committee to administer the funds.

San Diego scientific researchers told KPBS last month they strongly supported the measure because their institutions could use the extra funding.

More than $11 million was raised to support passage of the measure. Major donors included the American Cancer Society, Lance Armstrong Foundation, American Heart Association and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Opponents raised more than $42 million to defeat the measure. Tobacco companies including Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds were the biggest donors.

The coalition against the measure bankrolled a massive ad campaign with television commercials that said the measure would impose "nearly a billion dollars in new taxes on Californians, but doesn’t require it to be spent in California creating jobs."

Gov. Jerry Brown booted a doctor from a state advisory panel after she appeared in one of those television ads.

The last time a cigarette tax was on the California ballot was in 2006, when Proposition 86 was narrowly defeated. That measure would have imposed an additional tax of $2.60 per pack of cigarettes.