With so many local and state measures on this November's ballot, it's perhaps easy for some to get lost in the mix. Proposition 56 may be just such a measure — and while not as attention grabbing as legalizing recreational marijuana, for example, it would still hit smokers right in the lungs. If passed, the statewide proposition would raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes two dollars above its current level.
Mission Local found some smokers around the neighborhood and asked them what they thought about potentially having to shell out additional cash for smokes. The results, as one might imagine, were mixed.
"It's fucking bullshit, man," Austin Thomas told the channel as he puffed away in Dolores Park — saying he "would just deal with it."
Not all smokers agreed, with at least one the channel spoke with coming out in favor. And, unsurprisingly, the group lobbying to pass the proposition has a lot of support. "Prop. 56 gives voters the power to Save Lives and protect the next generation from a costly, deadly smoking habit," Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom told Yes on 56. "As a father of four, I’m endorsing the Save Lives initiative and standing up once again to the tobacco companies’ relentless, predatory targeting of our kids."
If backers of the measure are successful, this will be the first significant increase of the California cigarette tax in almost 20 years. The hope is that it will reduce smoking statewide — a notion which NPR reports is backed up by various studies suggesting people quit or cut down when prices go up.
California's current statewide tax on cigarettes is 87 cents per pack — one of the lowest in the country.