SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – One of the hot button issues heading into the June Presidential Primary Election is Proposition 29, the Tobacco Tax for Cancer Research Act.
The proposed initiative, if approved by California's voters, would increase the tax on cigarettes in the state by $1 per pack. California's current cigarette tax is 87 cents per pack. The additional tax revenue would be used to fund cancer research, smoking reduction programs and tobacco law enforcement.
KCBS Interviews Ray Durazo and Tom Del Beccaro:
Ray Durazo is the former American Heart Association Western States Affiliate Board President and currently serves as California Advocacy Task Force Chair. He said the measure is important because of what it will do not only for the present, but also the future.
"If Prop 29 passes, it will save 104,000 lives, it will stop 228,000 kids from smoking and that at a cost of $1 increase per pack," said Durazo. "We can prove absolutely through statistics, that when you increase the price of cigarettes, there's an immediate drop in the number of kids who will start smoking as a result."
However, not everyone is in favor of the measure. Tom Del Becccaro, Chairman of the California Republican Party, said the party decided not to support the proposition.
"Things like Prop 29 are the worst of proposed government. We don't need another major government program or bureaucracy in California," he said. "Government can only take so much of a bite out of the economy."
According to a 2012 report by the California Legislative Analyst's Office, Proposition 29 would generate approximately $735 million a year in new tax revenues.
The last time a cigarette tax was on the California ballot was in 2006, when Proposition 86 was narrowly defeated.
You can hear KCBS In Depth, a weekly half-hour news interview, Saturdays at 5:30a.m. and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.
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