Philip Morris Targets California Cigarette Tax Measure
Ballot measure is that measure which could save billions of dollars, said supporters who proposed $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes. But they are being outspent by a tobacco company that has prepared to stand up for the campaign.
Sponsors of the California Cancer Research Campaign informed legislators and staff last week, representing research demonstrating that the ballot measure, if passed, could reduce state costs on health and the rate of tobacco-related diseases.
According to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office the ballot measure could raise $855 million in its first year. Nearly half the funding will go to cancer study and the rest to campaigns to reduce cigarettes use and avert unlawful cigarette sales. Voters could cast ballots on the measure in 2012, or as soon as June if Gov. Jerry Brown prospers in getting a special election set to extend some taxes.
Researchers of the University of California forecast that the cigarette tax could be reduced by 11 percent in the rate of smoking people in the state. If the ballot measure does not pass, the current number of smokers of 12.9 percent could rise by 9 percent by 2016, researchers added.
Researches made a conclusion that the ballot measure could save the lives of 4,174 citizens of California between 2012 and 2016. Health cost savings might range from $3.3 to $28.2 billion, they said.
Researchers warn that cuts in California smoking and lung cancer rates may meet with failure if smoking prevention efforts don’t be supported.
A group called Taxpayers Against Out-of-Control Spending, which is funded by the Altria Group, which owns the Philip Morris tobacco company is working against the ballot measure.
There are other supporters’ names at the group’s website. The group criticizes the per-pack tax, citing concerns about funds being spent out of state and accountability to taxpayers.
David Sutton, a spokesman for Altria, said that they are against additional targeted taxes on tobacco and that he funded the group to “evaluate our options regarding this measure.”
During the first three months of this year, opponents outspent supporters by more than a 2-to-1 margin. Altria spent $1.2 million, and the supporters – $424,000.
Cigarette-manufacturers spend money on pollsters, campaign consultants and a famous political attorney.
Rhys Williams, a spokesman for the California Cancer Research Act campaign, said supporters would be against any effort to move the funds to solve state budget crises.
“The ultimate goal of California Cancer Research Campaign is to eliminate smoking”, Williams said.
According to 2009 Centers for Disease Control data, California smoking rates are among the lowest in the U.S. at 12.9 percent. The highest rates of 25 percent are in Kentucky and West Virginia. The proposed $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes is expected to increase cigarette prices to nearly $6 to $7 per pack, depending on the brand.
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