AirTalk for May 29, 2012

Prop 29 aims to tax cigarettes & fund cancer research

Tobacco Control Research Turanga Lauched

Phil Walter/Getty Images

Proposition 29 would increase the price of cigarettes in California by a dollar.

California voters have been inundated with ads against Proposition 29. The referendum on the June 5 ballot seeks to raise taxes on cigarettes by $1 a pack. The proponents want to make tobacco more expensive so as to discourage young smokers, and to spend the tax revenue on cancer research, smoking cessation, prevention of tobacco-related disease and on law enforcement.

The opponents include tobacco companies, business groups and anti-tax organizations, such as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. California already has an 87-cent tax on cigarette packs. The national average is $1.46.

The fight over this proposition has become expensive, according to MapLight which tracks campaign money. Funding by the opponents has topped $40 million -- the bulk coming from Philip Morris. The "Yes" side has raised just over $11 million -- mostly from the American Cancer Society.

The imbalance may be showing in a recent poll. It shows support for the measure dropping in recent weeks. The Public Policy Institute of California found "Yes" voters decreased from 67 percent in March to 53 percent last week. Opposition rose from 30 percent to 42 percent.

What are the main arguments, for and against? How will you vote?

Guests:

Jane Warner, President & CEO, American Lung Association of California; representing the Yes on 29 campaign

David Spady, State Director, Americans for Prosperity; representing the No on 29 campaign


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