Over one million signatures have been gathered in support of a California ballot measure that would increase the tax on cigarettes statewide. As long as the secretary of state’s office verifies that at least 585,407 signatures are legit, the Chronicle reports the measure will be on this November's ballot — giving residents across the great state the first chance in almost twenty years to raise the taxes on a pack.
“If you raise the price, fewer young people will start smoking or ever get addicted to a substance that will ruin their health and cause them to die earlier," initiative sponsor Tom Steyer told the paper. "That’s the biggest selling point.”
The increase on smokes would be the first of its kind in nearly two decades, and would raise the tax by $2.00 to $2.87 per pack. The signature-gathering effort was sponsored by Save Lives California, which according to its website is "a coalition of doctors, dentists, health plans, labor, hospitals, and non-profit health advocate organizations."
"Cancer and other tobacco-related diseases kill more people than car accidents, murder, suicide, alcohol, illegal drugs, and AIDS combined,” Dr. Steven Larson, president of the California Medical Association, said in a press release. "The heart of this initiative is simple: Taxing tobacco saves lives by getting people to quit or never start smoking."
If passed, this measure would be yet another strike against the tobacco industry following the signing into law earlier this month by Governor Jerry Brown legislation raising the smoking age to 21. The Chron predicts the measure would generate between $1.1 billion and $1.6 billion a year. According to its supporters, that money would be allocated to "fund healthcare costs and research into cures for cancer and other tobacco related diseases."