Friday, Aug 26, 2016
California’s Proposition 56 Will Raise Tobacco Tax to
Save Lives, Protect Children
In November, Californians will have a vital opportunity to stand up to tobacco companies and save lives. Proposition 56 will raise the state’s tax on tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) containing nicotine, which medical experts warn are creating a major public health threat to children.
Higher taxes on tobacco products get people to quit smoking and are proven to prevent would-be smokers – including youth – from ever starting. Yet, California’s current tobacco tax of 87 cents per pack of cigarettes is among the lowest in the nation. Prop. 56 will raise the tax by $2 per pack with an equivalent increase on all tobacco products – and only those who choose to continue or start this deadly and costly habit will pay this simple user fee.
The California Dental Association, California Medical Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association in California, American Heart Association, and others are sponsoring Prop. 56 because tobacco hurts all Californians – even those who don’t smoke.
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in our state and the nation, claiming the lives of 40,000 Californians annually. Each year, tobacco causes more deaths than guns, car accidents, HIV, alcohol and illegal drugs combined. Meanwhile, California taxpayers spend $3.5 billion dollars each year treating cancer and other tobacco-related diseases through Medi-Cal and Denti-Cal, which provide health coverage for over 12 million low-income Californians.
The vast majority of funds generated by Prop. 56 (an estimated $1 billion annually with an additional $1 billion in federal matching funds) will go to pay for health care through Medi-Cal and Denti-Cal to help offset the costs of tobacco use.
Prop. 56 also provides a dedicated funding source for California’s state oral health program overseen by the new state dental director. In addition, the measure directs funds to the University of California for research into tobacco-related diseases and to the state Department of Public Health and Department of Education for smoking prevention and cessation programs.
Studies show that 90 percent of smokers start as teens. This year alone, an estimated 16,800 California youth will start smoking, one-third of whom will eventually die from tobacco-related diseases. Tobacco companies are aggressively marketing youth-themed, candy-flavored e-cigarettes containing nicotine to hook a new generation of young consumers. Teen use of these devices tripled in a single year and teens who use e-cigarettes are twice as likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes. A recent UCLA study also found that toxic substances in e-cigarettes increase users’ risk of oral disease. Prop. 56 will treat e-cigarettes the same as all other deadly tobacco products.
Please cast your “Yes” vote for Prop. 56 by mail or on November 8. The tobacco industry is already spreading totally false claims about the measure, but the fact is this is a life-saving measure that will safeguard children and improve California’s communities, economy and health care system. Although we have made some great strides, we cannot stand down from combatting tobacco’s deadly addiction. Learn more at YesOn56.org.