Hidden in the hysteria over the Wisconsin recall election was the rejection in California of a $1 a pack increase in the cigarette tax. This public initiative initially enjoyed huge support, but then . . .
Tobacco companies poured nearly $47 million into their campaign to defeat Proposition 29, a tax designed to raise an estimated $860 million a year for research on tobacco-related diseases and prevention programs. . . . .
Backed by the tobacco money, a coalition of anti-tax and business organizations mounted an aggressive campaign against the initiative, including a flood of television commercials and campaign mailers. The proposition, they argued, would create an unaccountable bureaucracy and allow the tax dollars to be siphoned out of
Proposition 29 (Cigarette tax)
What was lost in
was the health of many of its citizens along with the lower health care costs
for everyone else.
The American Cancer Society and other proponents predicted that the increase in cigarette prices would stop 220,000 kids from starting to smoke and encourage 100,000 current smokers to quit. They raised more than $11 million, including $500,000 from New York Mayor Michael Bloombergand $1.5 million from cycling champ Lance Armstrong's Livestrong Foundation
Now this Forum is highly skeptical of numbers like those put out by the American Cancer Society, in large part because estimates of the impact of higher tobacco taxes are just that, estimates. These groups also are not unbiased, providing further questions about their numbers. But there is no question that higher cigarette prices reduced smoking to some degree, just like there is not question that cigarette smoking causes heart disease, lung cancer and a whole bunch of other bad things.
One can easily imagine the high fives that tobacco executives everywhere were hoisting after the election. And the price tag, $50 million or so was a bargain for companies making profits in the billions off of cigarette smoking. And the anti-tax people also must be very proud, they not only denied funding for a government program to help treat and prevent tobacco related diseases they also enabled the citizens of California to be able to spend more money on tobacco and strengthen the freedom of cigarette smokers to impose their second hand smoke and higher health care costs on the rest of us.
What a great day for the forces of greed and ignorance and selfishness!