Tobacco Giants Pummel Plan to Tax Cali Cigarettes
Proposition 29 vote up in the air before Tuesday vote
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2012 4:37 PM CDT
Cycling legend and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong attends a rally at a news conference at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles in favor of Proposition 29.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – The battle over a proposed cigarette tax has turned surprisingly fierce in California, a state that once led the anti-smoking crusade, the New York Times reports. Proponents of the $1-a-pack plan, called Proposition 29, say it will raise about $735 million for cancer research. But $47 million in advertisements (mostly from the tobacco industry) and a statewide anti-tax sentiment seem to be swaying voters ahead of the Tuesday vote.

Even the Los Angeles Times editorial board has argued against it, saying the state shouldn't "get into the medical research business ... when it has so many other important unmet needs," like a $16 billion budget shortfall. But California—known for banning smoking on sidewalks, public places, and even some apartment buildings—hasn't raised cigarette taxes since 1998, and will likely lose anti-smoking cred if Prop 29 goes down. “This is our best opportunity, we think,” said Lance Armstrong, Prop 29's biggest public advocate.