More than two weeks after the polls closed in the June 5 election, the fate of a tobacco tax initiative remains unsettled.
As of Wednesday, the California Secretary of State’s office counted 2,469,376 votes in favor (49.9 percent) and 2,481,795 votes against (50.1 percent), a margin of only 12,419 votes.
Here’s the background, from our report by Ben Adler on the eve of the election:
California voters will decide Tuesday whether to raise the state’s tax on tobacco products. Proposition 29 has become the loudest battle of this primary election.
The tax on a pack of cigarettes in California is currently 87 cents. The question before voters is whether to add a dollar more per pack to that tax. Levies on other tobacco products would go up as well.
A recent statewide survey by the Public Policy Institute of California, shows 53 percent of the voters now support Proposition 29, while 42 percent oppose the measure.
The measure could raise some $700 million dollars – and the bulk of that money would go towards cancer research and prevention programs. The tax revenues would also pay for a new committee that would decide how the money is spent. None of the money would go into the state’s general fund. And the final part? The money raised by Proposition 29 would not have to be spent in California – and that’s been one of the biggest flash points of the campaign.
Opponents to Proposition 29 include business and tobacco groups, and they’ve raised more than $45 million dollars to defeat the initiative. Supporters have raised about a quarter of that with most coming from the American Cancer Society. And both sides have poured big money into TV ads.