Support drops for California’s Prop 29 cigarette tax, poll shows

Voter support for the Proposition 29 cigarette tax initiative has taken a steep dive in the weeks leading up to California’s June 5th primary, according to a new poll released today.

PPIC's May 2012 survey graph shows the drop in voter support for Prop. 29 the cigarette tax measure. SOURCE: Public Policy Institute of California

Read more: Big Tobacco defeats Prop. 29 cigarette tax in California

The Public Policy Institute of California survey found a 14% drop in support for the cigarette tax increase since March.

The latest poll showed 53% of likely voters would support the tobacco tax measure with 42% against and 5% undecided.

Prior to the anti-Prop. 29 ad blitz, 67% of likely voters surveyed by PPIC in March said they would vote for Prop. 29, only 30% would vote against it and 3% were undecided undecided.

“The large drop in support for Proposition 29 speaks loudly about how a well-funded opposition is able to raise voters’ doubts and distrust in state government, even when a tax increase is viewed favorably,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC President and CEO.

If approved, Prop. 29 would add another $1 tax for each pack of cigarettes and other tobacco products sold. (The current state cigarette tax is $0.87, ranking 33rd in the nation; Prop. 29 would bring the total state cigarette tax to $1.87 per pack, bringing the rate in line with the national average of $1.34 per pack.)

Read more: Surgeon General warns of youth smoking epidemic

The revenues would fund research for cancer and tobacco-related diseases. The measure is expected to increase research funding by $735 million a year, according to the official state voter guide. In addition, studies have shown that increasing cigarette prices will reduce tobacco use among teenagers and adolescents, which would save lives and lower health care costs in the long-run.

The No on 29 campaign – funded almost exclusively by tobacco giants Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds and their affiliates – have spent at least $7 million since February to defeat the tax initiative, according to the most recent campaign finance disclosures. State records revealed that Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds have plowed more than $14.7 million since 2011 to defeat Prop. 29.

Much of the money was spent on television and radio ads attacking Prop. 29 as a $735 million tax hike that adds more bureaucracy without much accountability.

Proponents of the measure, Yes on 29, have spent just over $250,000 since February, focusing their campaign efforts on field work and social media, according to the most recent campaign filings.

Funded largely by the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, and the American Heart Association, the Yes on 29 campaign have begun to strike back with television and web videos discrediting Big Tobacco’s anti-Prop. 29 ads.

Two television ads were released featuring Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa asking viewers, “Who do you trust to save lives?”

A web video parody released today poked fun at the tobacco industry’s misleading campaigns by showing a parade of Californians explaining why they support Big Tobacco. Some of the lines include, “I support Big Tobacco because they killed my wife, and that’s one less mouth to feed” or “I support Big Tobacco because spending $9.14 billion on tobacco-related health care costs is exactly what California needs right now.”

So far, Yes on 29 has spent $687,875.32 to convince voters to approve the California Cancer Research Act, amounting to less than 5% of the money Big Tobacco has already spent on the No on 29 campaign.


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2 Comments on “Support drops for California’s Prop 29 cigarette tax, poll shows

  1. Pingback: Big Tobacco defeats Prop. 29 cigarette tax in California | What The Folly?!

  2. Pingback: Election recap: Much ado (and cash) results in nothing | Grist

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