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Proposition 56

Aims to increase tax on cigarettes

Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 9/15/2016, midnight

While cigarette use has dramatically declined over the years, there are a lot of people who still indulge, and despite media campaigns to discourage smoking, young people, especially teens, still seem prone to try them.

Adding to the situation is the e-cigarette, which imitates smoking while reportedly dramatically reducing its health hazards.

On November’s ballot, Proposition 56 seeks to increase taxes on both tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes by $2.

Proponents of the proposition claim the moneys brought in from the increased tax will be used to fund healthcare for needy families and help pay for smoking prevention campaigns.

In fact, the slogan for the YesOn56.org campaign is “Yes on 56, Save Lives California.”

According to the organization, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association in California and American Heart Association support this initiative because taxing tobacco saves lives by getting people to quit or never start the hazardous and costly habit.

The initiative basically asks smokers to pay to improve healthcare and fight cancer related to cigarette smoke for both smokers and those affected by it.

According to research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cancer and other tobacco-related afflictions cause death to more people than guns, car accidents, illegal drugs, AIDS and alcohol combined.

And according to yeson56.org, studies show that 90 percent of smokers begin as teens. In California alone, nearly 17,000 kids get hooked on smoking each year and about one third of them will eventually die from tobacco-related diseases.

Due to smoking-related illnesses, taxpayers in California reportedly spend $3.5 billion per year on treatment, according to Medi-Cal.

Opponents of Proposition 56 says it is a special-interest “tax grab.” They claim the proposition is not what it appears to be.

NoOnProposition56.com says it is a $1.4 billion “tax hike grab” initiated by insurance companies and “other wealthy special interests” to increase their profits.

Opponents claim that only 13 percent of funds raised from the tax will actually go to smoking prevention and treatment, with the bulk of it—82 percent—going to Medi-Cal and insurance providers. That leaves a mere 5 percent for research.

Another entity that opposes Proposition 56 is the California Taxpayers Association, which claims that the decline of tobacco consumption will cause “less revenue,” creating additional pressure for budget shifts or higher taxes on other areas to make up for the loss.

What Proposition 56 says…

A YES vote on this measure means: state excise tax on cigarettes would increase by $2 per pack—from 87 cents to $2.87. State excise tax on other tobacco products would increase by a similar amount. State excise tax also would be applied to electronic cigarettes. Revenue from these higher taxes would be used for many purposes, but primarily to augment spending on healthcare for low-income Californians.

A NO vote on this measure means: No changes would be made to existing state taxes on cigarettes, other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.