Prop 56: Tobacco Tax Increase


Sep 20, 2016 (San Diego) Prop 56 already saw some adds so this is why we are also covering this earlier, instead of in order. What the proposition will do is plain and simple. It will raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $2.00 dollars. The tax currently stands at $0.86 cents, and was last raised in 1999.

The goal of this tax is to also start taxing e-cigarrettes, which currently are not taxed. The use of those products is rising among youth as well. According to Ballotpedia the new revenue would work as follows:

Step 1: use new revenue to replace old revenue lost due to lower tobacco consumption resulting from tobacco tax increase.

Step 2: use next five percent of revenue to pay the costs of administering the tax.

Step 3: allocate $48 million to enforcing tobacco laws, $40 million to physician training to increase the number of primary care and emergency physicians in the state, $30 million towards preventing and treating dental diseases, and $400 thousand to the California State Auditor to audit funds from the new tax.

Step 4: allocate 82 percent of remaining funds towards services related to Medi-Cal, 11 percent of remaining funds towards tobacco-use prevention, 5 percent of remaining funds towards research into cancer, heart and lung diseases, and other tobacco-related diseases, and 2 percent of remaining funds towards school programs focusing on tobacco-use prevention and reduction.

 

You can find the measure here:

From the statement of purpose we learn that the ballot intends to do the following:

(a) Save the lives of Californians and save state and local government money in the future by reducing smoking and tobacco use among all Californians, but particularly youth.

{b) Provide funds to increase funding for existing healthcare programs and services that treat all types of cancer, cardiovascular and lung disease, oral disease and tobacco-related diseases, expand the number of healthcare providers, and maximize federal funding for these programs and services.

(c) Provide funds to support research into the causes of and cures for all types of cancer, cardiovascular and lung disease, oral disease and tobacco- related diseases, and to transform such scientific discoveries into clinical applications to reduce the incidence and mortality of such diseases·and conditions.

{d) Provide funds to support prevention programs aimed at discouraging individuals from using cigarettes and other tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes.

(e) Provide funds for implementation and administrative purposes to reduce cigarette smuggling, tobacco tax evasion, and illegal sales of tobacco products to minors, fund medical training for new doctors to treat diseases, including those caused by tobacco use, and fund programs to prevent and treat dental diseases including those caused by tobacco use.

(f) Protect existing tobacco tax funded programs, which currently save Californians millions of dollars in healthcare costs.
(g) Provide a full accounting of how funds raised are s’pent to further the purposes of this act without creating new bureaucracies.

It also expands the definition of tobacco products to include e cigarrettes, though for the purpose of the tax it does not include FDA approved tobacco cessation products.

It is supported by a large list of elected officials, including Senator Marti Block and Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez. It is also supported by the California Democratic Party, and a few democratic clubs. Among the list of civic organizations Alliance San Diego is in the list.  It is also supported by the San Diego and Imperial Labor Council, and many other unions.

Arguments in favor as as follows, again according to Ballotpedia:

Protect children. Thousands of youth become addicted to tobacco each year. Now tobacco companies are targeting kids with candy-flavored electronic cigarettes containing nicotine. It has been proven that higher tobacco taxes reduce teen smoking.

Saves lives. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in California. This initiative will save lives by preventing kids from getting hooked on tobacco, improving health care, and fighting cancer and other tobacco-related diseases

Saves lives. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in California. This initiative will save lives by preventing kids from getting hooked on tobacco, improving health care, and fighting cancer and other tobacco-related diseases.

The opposition is led by the the California Republican, Liberatian and Peace and Freedom Parties. It is also opposed by the California Tax Payer Association, and specific to San Diego, the San Diego Tax Fighetrs.

Not surprisingly it is also opposed by Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, who have invested heavily in e-cigarrette technology and marketing.

Opponents state:

The proposition would fund insurance companies and special interests more than it would fund treatments for smoking related illnesses and youth smoking prevention.

The proposition would not allocate funds for improving schools. (This is true, but this is not the intent of the proposition.)

The tax revenue that would be generated by the proposition should address other issues.

The proposition would waste money on overhead and bureaucracy.

Supporters have allocated $18,837,406 dollars as of the September filing

Opponents have slated $55,949,274 dollars

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