Proposition 29: Cigarette tax curbs habit, aids research 

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The harm done by cigarettes is costly, and it is time for smokers to start carrying the burden of research into smoking-related diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Proposition 29, which is on the June 5 ballot, would levy a $1 tax on every pack of cigarettes sold in the state. We encourage everyone to vote yes.

Smoking cigarettes doesn’t just lead to emphysema, lung cancer and heart disease among its practitioners. This bad habit affects us all in the form of added costs to public hospitals and health insurance

People who smoke inordinately burden our public health care system with medical maladies directly related to their choice to use cigarettes. Although nicotine addiction is tough to break, this tax will offer at least something of an incentive to stop an unhealthy habit and help free our county hospitals from the obligation to treat unnecessary diseases.

The tobacco companies know the tax also will be used for smoking cessation programs. That’s why they have spent $40 million to defeat this ballot initiative.

But in truth, Prop. 29 is rather mild when compared to the taxes that other states have imposed on cigarettes. The national average tax on cigarettes is $1.46.

Prop. 29 would raise the tax in California to $1.87, which is just slightly higher than most such state taxes in the country. It’s remarkable to remember that even now, cigarettes cost just a little more than $5 a pack in California.
If Prop. 29 passes, the state would generate an estimated $800 million per year to study the effects of smoking. In addition, the American Cancer Society estimates the additional cost of cigarettes could keep 220,000 children from starting the habit.

There is too much evidence about the harm that cigarettes cause and the cost to our health care system because of them. This initiative is one step toward fixing the problem.

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