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Tobacco tax initiative qualifies for November ballot as Prop. 56



July 08, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Public Health 

The California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016 has officially qualified for the November ballot as Proposition 56. The California Secretary of State confirmed that the measure qualified, after a random sampling of the 1 million signatures submitted by Save Lives California showed that the campaign had more than the 585,407 signatures necessary to earn a spot on the ballot.

Reaching 1 million signatures is a tremendous achievement for the coalition and a testament to its strength. But the road to November won’t be easy. Big Tobacco has the financial means to lead a tough campaign of its own against us.


Prop. 56 – supported by a broad alliance of physicians, health care advocates, educators and others – would raise California’s tobacco tax, which is currently among the lowest in the country, to $2.87 a pack. The majority of the money from the initiative’s user fee on cigarettes and other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes containing nicotine, will be used for existing health programs and research into cures for cancer and other illnesses caused by smoking and tobacco products.


“Sadly, we see tobacco’s deadly and costly toll every day in our hospitals and clinics. Cancer and other tobacco-related diseases kill more people than car accidents, murder, suicide, alcohol, illegal drugs and AIDS combined,” said Steven Larson, M.D., MPH, president of the California Medical Association (CMA). “The heart of this initiative is simple: Taxing tobacco saves lives by getting people to quit or never start smoking. The only people who will pay are those who smoke. If you don’t smoke, you don’t pay.”


California taxpayers pay $3.5 billion annually to treat cancer and other tobacco-related diseases through Medi-Cal. A user fee on cigarettes is a matter of fairness – it shifts the fiscal burden to smokers for these medical programs, smoking prevention and research.


The Prop. 56 tobacco tax will also prevent a new generation of kids from taking up a deadly, addictive habit. Despite years of progress in education and research about the dangers of tobacco, nearly 17,000 California kids get hooked on smoking every year; one-third of them will eventually die from tobacco-related illnesses.


Last week, the California Hospital Association (CHA) contributed $9 million to Save Lives California, giving a boost to a campaign expected to be outspent by tobacco companies.


Prop. 56 – The California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016 – is backed by Save Lives California, a coalition of health advocates and others that includes CMA, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association in California, American Heart Association, California Dental Association, CHA, SEIU California, Blue Shield of California and philanthropist Tom Steyer.


If you haven’t already, be sure to add your name to the growing list of Save Lives California supporters. It’s easy – all you have to do is click this link and enter your email address and zip code. By doing so, you can be among the first to say “I’m in” to fight for a $2 tobacco tax increase in California.


For more information on the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016, go to www.yeson56.com.

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