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Election Watch: Proposition 29

The measure would raise $735 million to prevent smoking and fight cancer, but supporters say the State should first address other budget priorities.

In addition to a tight race for the Democratic nomination in California's Assembly District 51, Northeast Los Angeles voters will also be tasked with deciding the futures of Propositions 28—which would alter term limits—and 29, which would increase taxes for funding state-supervised cancer research.

Proposition 29

The proposition would increase the tax on every box of cigarettes sold in California by $1, bring the total tax-per-box to $1.87. The money raised--approximately $735 million per year according to the California Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO)--would fund a variety of cancer research and smoking cessation measures.

According to the LAO, 60-percent of the funds would be used to provide "grants and loans to support research on prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and potential cures for cancer and tobacco-related diseases." 

The measure states that "all qualified researchers would have an equal
opportunity to compete for these research funds."

The second largest portion of the funds--20-percent--would be used by the California Dept. of Public Health to fund smoking cessation programs. Fifteen-percent would be spent building facilities and purchasing equipment necessary for cancer research.

Other portions of the funds would go toward increased law enforcement and administrative costs.

What They're Saying

According to the Ballotpedia.com, a combined $58.9 million has been raised to lobby both for and against Proposition 29. A wide majority the money--$46.7-percent--has been raised by the opposition.

A key argument against the measure is that grant funds could be won by out of state researchers, however, in a letter to the Los Angeles Times, supporters Sherry Lansing and Kristiina Vuori said there is "clear language" in the measure that requires funds to be spent in California.

Lansing, CEO of Paramount Picture Group, is the co-founder of the group Stand Up to Cancer. Vuori, M.D., Ph.D., is a member of Stand Up to Cancer and sits on on the board of directors of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The Los Angeles Times

No on Prop. 29:

Proposition 29 is well intentioned, but it just doesn't make sense for the state to get into the medical research business to the tune of half a billion dollars a year when it has so many other important unmet needs. California can't afford to retain its K-12 teachers, keep all its parks open, give public college students the courses they need to earn a degree or provide adequate home health aides for the infirm or medical care for the poor. If the state is going to raise a new $735 million, it should put the money in the general fund rather than dedicating it to an already well-funded research effort. Funding priorities shouldn't be set at the ballot box.

The American Heart Association

Yes on Prop. 29:

The proposed $1 tobacco tax – paid only by those who purchase tobacco products – will save 104,000 lives; stop 228,000 kids from smoking; and generate approximately $735 million every year to support life-saving research and tobacco prevention programs. Prop 29 will also provide vital funding to make advances in prevention, detection and treatment of heart disease, stroke and other smoking-related illnesses.

Sixty cents of every dollar will go towards lifesaving research of tobacco related illnesses like heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 4 causes of death for Californians. The tobacco tax will reduce California’s smoking rate, reduce death and disability from cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and reduce public exposure to secondhand smoke.

Local Reaction

LAUSD Local District 5 Board Member Bennett Kayser, who worked as a middle school health teacher for 14 years,  has publicly stated his support of the measure.

“As a middle school health teacher of 14 years, I am committed to protecting the next generation of children from the well-documented harms of smoking. Proposition 29 has gained the support of the Board of Education because it will save lives; for every 10-percent increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes drops youth smoking by 6.5-percent."

Donny York June 01, 2012 at 11:38 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpXjVq5Q6S0&feature=share Please catch "If You're Not Buying Cigarettes, then... WHAT KIND OF CITIZEN ARE YOU?" song. Share it out there! Smokers are indispensible citizens !
Douglas Krisher June 02, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Prop 29: Heck no! What a crock. It is focused on only one group of people NOT fair. Why not a fat tax on sugary snacks, sodas, etc.? That way everyone is taxed and we fight a much more worthy cause of death and illness: obesity. Time to get real.
John Wayne's Honda June 02, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Thank you no, these commercial are a joke show me evidence that the money will be spent correctly and no raided to balance the budge. Show me how it save "children"- "oh what about the children?!?!?" I don't like Audi drivers lets tax them!!
Sarah Bucolic June 02, 2012 at 04:21 PM
I'll be voting no on Prop 29. I highly doubt they will make sure money is not given to "researchers" out of California. I don't trust the verbage. Hey let's add an alcohol tax and fund drunk driving and alcoholic programs and alcohol damaged liver research. Smokers who get tobacco related cancer is fully their fault and could be prevented if they didn't smoke. I don't think our money should go to "tobacco related" research. What about people who have other types of Cancer? Why not Cancer research in general? This prop just doesn't add up and there are probably other motives behind it. Vote NO on 29.
Suzanne June 02, 2012 at 05:34 PM
While I'm inclined to vote "no" on this measure, largely because I think there are other, more pressing needs right now in California, I'll point out that many, many people who get lung cancer are not former smokers at all. Children exposed to second hand smoke have as great, if not greater, risk of developing lung cancer than smokers. My parents, both smokers, died of lung cancer; I've never smoked, not once, and yet I worry that I'll get it too because I was exposed for such a long time while growing up. It's not an idle worry for me - a close friend, also a never-smoker, died horribly of lung cancer at age 37. Judgmental approaches are unproductive and, frankly, inhumane: since most of us have been exposed to or ingested cancer-causing substances since childhood, does that mean that most of us "deserve" to get cancer? I should hope not.
Sally Hopkins June 04, 2012 at 05:07 AM
If someone in your family was dying from lung cancer or cardiovascular disease (30% of this is related to smoking), you might feel like this IS a priority issue. The current toll is devastating. About 13,000 adults die of lung cancer in Ca. each year. Big Tobacco replaces them PLUS OTHERS by addicting about 37,000 of our youth each year. About half a million of our current Ca. kids will die prematurely of smoking-related diseases, if we do not act quickly. It is ironic that non-smokers object to Prop 29 as a tax, since it is a USER tax. Those who do not purchase tobacco would pay nothing. As the number of smokers drops and the number of teens starting to smoke dwindles, we taxpayers, now subsidizing hefty bills of uninsured smokers, would actually pay lower taxes. We now pay $15 per pack in healthcare/lost productivity for low-income smokers. We expect long-term healthcare costs in Ca. to drop $5 billion from Prop 29. That is based on statistics in other states that have raised cigarette taxes. (facts from Amer. Cancer Society) American Cancer Society played a big part in designing this awesome proposition. The've chosen/granted early funding to over 45 Nobel Prize winners! Currently half of us will be diagnosed with at least one type of cancer in our lifetime, and one in five of us will DIE from invasive cancer. By voting YES, you will be funding life-saving research that will likely save the life of a loved one--or maybe your own. VOTE YES--PROP 29
Nancy and Paul Agronin June 04, 2012 at 03:37 PM
nobody ever said that smokers were indispensable however, they themselves are making themselves dispensable by smoking. As a nurse, I know first hand what I have seen in my 40 plus years in healthcare has happened as a result of smoking. That would be heart disease, lung disease, cancer and all second hand smoke issues. This in and of itself is enough to SAY YES TO PROP 29. Lance Armstrong, who does not even live in California, feels strongly enough about it to support that YES vote. Sorry you feel that way and i hope you are one that benefits with a cessation program when PROP 29 passes.
CHRISTINE June 04, 2012 at 06:24 PM
In honor of colleague and Cancer research advocate Kathryn Joosten, YES on 29. http://www.latimes.com/news/la-desperate-housewives-actress-kathryn-joosten-dies-at-72-20120602,0,5386180.story cp
Lisa June 04, 2012 at 06:27 PM
NO on Prop. 29
Nelson R Grande II June 05, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I don't smoke cigarettes. No.
Nelson R Grande II June 05, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Mrs. and Mr. Agronin: "they themselves are making themselves dispensable by smoking" So because of that, we can tax them. Classy. You are a nurse. There are many of us who are not in the medical field. We are able to see things a bit more objectively. It's not your fault. You're specialized. I am a true believer in personal freedoms. If smokers want to have less lung cancer, it would be their choice to quit or to pay for medication. We really need to stop relying on the goverment for everything. Also, it's supposed to help cessation programs. Why should they be forced to pay for that? If they want to quit, they should pay for it AFTER making the decision to quit. Again, why is it the goverment's job to do this? Further, the government has a whole lot of things to fix before starting to take more money from people. Let's try to fund more pressing things; like education reform. Lastly, who really cares what Lance Armstrong or any other celbrity thinks? I'm sorry. I don't fall for the celebrity hype. I try to follow practicality and facts, not popularity. If you would like a real endoresment on propositions, read it for yourself and turn off the tv
m June 05, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Yes on 29 Screw greedy ass tobacco companies
Nelson R Grande II June 05, 2012 at 07:35 PM
The tobacco companies wouldn't be the only ones. It would, most directly, affect those who choose to smoke. The people are taxed very much already and the money would go to the government. It would go to government programs to help cessation and lung cancer research. So, in essence it's an insurance scheme. You're charging those who may or may not get lung cancer for a service they may or may not use. All the while, there's a guaranteed base for larger government coffers. While I don't like the shenanigans of the tobacco companies, I think the systematically corrupt government deserves it least.
Nelson R Grande II June 05, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Sally, no one forces one to smoke. So, the replacements are fair. Are we going to charge extra taxes on foods that contain saturated fats, people that eat at McDonald's, chemical products, etc? There is a beautiful list of cancer causes (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/causes). Why are we targeting only one of those? Why not tax EVERY PERSON who buys something on that list? Hmm. It seems more expensive hair dyes for everyone is in order. Proposition 29: It's a flawed and shortsighted plan. P.S. LADWP uses Fluoridated water. It's on the list.
Nelson R Grande II June 05, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Oh yeah. And please let go of the 'Youth' argument. Children don't need to be put in cages for their protection. We can't bubble wrap the world. Somehow, we have this view that children are or should be ignorant. Goodness. Instead, TEACH kids about smoking and its risks and EMPOWER THEM make the decisions. Education folks. That's the answer; Education.
Sharon June 06, 2012 at 06:04 PM
I am not a smoker and never have been but I vote NO to prop 29 due to the fact that if we get taxed on this the money does not stay within California only and will go to other states and it will not go to cancer research...So my vote is No on 29
Sharon June 06, 2012 at 06:06 PM
I do not smoke and never have, I vote NO on Prop 29 due to the fact that we are being taxed but the money does not stay within California and can go to other states. And that none of the money will go to cancer research...NO on Prop 29

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