The fight to stop the tobacco industry’s dangerous hold on our country’s health is ever-changing and demands strong, comprehensive public policy change.
The Fight Continues: An Update on Proposition 29
The staff and volunteers of ACS CAN and the American Cancer Society's California Division did not get much sleep on Tuesday night as we awaited the results of Proposition 29, which would raise the state cigarette tax by $1 per pack. What we weren't expecting was a vote that remains too close to call. With all of the precincts reporting in, there are only 40,000 votes separating the yes votes from the no votes. However, estimates show more than 1 million mail-in and provisional ballots were left uncounted on election night. Therefore, ACS CAN and the campaign coalition are not conceding the election outcome, and we and our public health partners are pledging to fight for the health of Californians until every vote is counted. We remain confident that Californians saw through Big Tobacco's $50 million smokescreen of deception and rejected the tobacco industry's relentless assault on our children, our health and our economy. They told outright lies that the money raised through Prop. 29 would be spent outside of California, when in fact the investment would create 12,000 new jobs and an estimated $1.9 billion of new economic activity in the state. If passed, Prop. 29 would save lives not just through a reduction in smoking, but also by generating more than $500 million annually in new medical research funds to be spent in California. And perhaps most importantly, more than 228,000 kids would quit smoking. While we're waiting for the results from California, we're celebrating two victories against the tobacco industry in other parts of the country. Big Tobacco suffered a defeat Tuesday when the people of Springfield, Missouri voted to defend the city's comprehensive smoke-free law. As in California, the tobacco industry waged an aggressive battle to overturn the law, but voters supported it by a wide margin of 64 percent to 36 percent. That followed a big win for public health last week in Illinois, where strong support from cancer advocates and ACS CAN volunteers helped to pass a law increasing that state's cigarette tax by $1. For now, we are closely monitoring the count of the remaining absentee and provisional ballots throughout the state of California. It could take days; it could take weeks. No matter the final outcome, we won't rest until all Americans are protected from the despicable practices of Big Tobacco. We will continue to fight back.