Prop 56 would increase the tax on cigarettes by $2 per pack with an equivalent increase on other tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes.
Raising the cost of cigarettes has effectively reduced smoking and discouraged people – especially teens – from starting. Research shows that for every 10% increase in the cost of a pack of cigarettes, teen smoking drops by up to 7%.
Smoking is the world’s leading cause of preventable death. Youth, low-income communities, and communities of color are disproportionately targeted by tobacco industry advertising, and are vastly more likely to become addicted to cigarettes as well. According to a new report published by JAMA Internal Medicine, of the more than 167,000 cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2014 — almost 29 percent — were attributable to cigarette smoking.
Already, researchers have estimated that tobacco-control efforts since 1964 have prevented eight million people from dying prematurely. Each of these eight million people have lived, on average, an extra 20 years. Tobacco-control policies are also especially valuable because the costs associated with implementation are so minimal, while the payoff in lives saved and illnesses prevented is so great—and every such tobacco-control measure reduces healthcare costs over time.
Eighty percent of the funds raised from Prop 56, estimated to be over $1 billion annually, would go towards healthcare programs that would benefit Medi-Cal recipients, most of whom are low-income people of color. The new revenues would also be used to triple existing funding for California’s tobacco control program, invest in research of cancer and other tobacco-related diseases, and support the enforcement of tobacco laws.
Big Tobacco has spent more than $200 million over the past decade to defeat tobacco taxes in California. Prop 56 will reduce smoking, prevent suffering, and save lives and money. On November 8th, let’s put public health over corporate profits: Vote Yes on Prop 56.