September 04, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy Public Health
A proposal to raise California’s tobacco tax by $2 per pack is supported by an overwhelming majority of the state’s voters, according to a new Field Poll.
The poll, released Aug. 26, shows over two-thirds of California voters support of a $2 tobacco tax hike, with 50 percent of those surveyed saying they strongly favor the increase. The poll was conducted between June 25 and July 16 by way of phone calls.
The positive findings reflect the opinions of many health and labor advocates across the state, who believe boosting California’s tobacco tax would have numerous benefits. It would, among other things, prevent suffering from tobacco-related diseases, save money that would otherwise be used to treat tobacco-related illnesses and increase access to health care by directing revenue generated from the tax to the state’s underfunded Medi-Cal program.
“We all know that tobacco is harmful, but it’s been far too long since California has done something about it,” Luther F. Cobb, M.D., president of the California Medical Association, said in a statement following the Field Poll. “The smoking related illnesses we see day in and day out at my hospital and hospitals across the state are preventable. Raising the tax on tobacco will not only help reduce these deadly diseases, but save California billions of dollars.”
California’s cigarette tax is currently at 87 cents per pack, which is among the lowest in the nation.
A measure to raise the tobacco tax by $2 per pack was introduced in the California Legislature’s special session on health on Wednesday. However, proponents are also prepared to take the initiative to voters in 2016, if needed.
Supporters of the proposal include the California Medical Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association in California and the American Heart Association. Those organizations are members of the Save Lives California coalition, a group dedicated to passing a $2 per pack tobacco tax increase.
“The writing is on the wall, and Big Tobacco should take notice,” Dr. Cobb said. “The Field Poll shows that voters favor a tobacco tax and want to ensure that Medi-Cal is funded, plain and simple.”