Too Close To Call: California Tobacco Tax Losing By Slim Margin

Tobacco tax race is too close to call (Flickr/Abdullah Najeeb)

Despite some initial news reports that an additional dollar a pack tax on cigarettes had been defeated in the state, it could be days or weeks before the final outcome is known.

On KQED’s News Fix blog Jon Brooks reports there are potentially hundreds of thousands of uncounted ballots from early and absentee voters.

The money that poured into this campaign was significant, though lopsided as we reported yesterday. Today on the California Report, Kenny Goldberg looked at how that seemed to affect the campaign:

Supporters of Prop 29 had a popular spokesman: seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong. They also had the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Association, and doctors groups pushing the measure.

With early polls showing a vast majority of Californians in favor, advocates were sitting pretty. But then tobacco companies weighed in with a massive ad campaign on TV and by mail. The ads said Prop 29 would create a new government bureaucracy, with little accountability. By late May, the ads had done their job: polls showed support for Prop 29 had plummeted.

Tobacco companies spent nearly 49 million dollars to fight Prop 29. In contrast, supporters raised about 12.3 million dollars.

California used to have one of the highest tobacco taxes in the nation. But since the state last raised them in 1998, California’s rate had fallen to 33rd.

New York State has the highest tax in the U.S. at $4.35 per pack.

Related