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California Tobacco Tax Backers Submit Signatures

Curran Kelleher / Flickr
 

Curran Kelleher / Flickr

It looks like California voters will be asked again this fall whether to increase the state’s tobacco tax. Anti-tobacco advocates say they’re submitting signatures to qualify an initiative for the November ballot.

California currently places an excise tax on cigarettes of 87 cents a pack – with an equivalent tax on most other tobacco products. This ballot measure would raise the tax by $2 a pack – and extend that tax to e-cigarettes, which are not currently covered by it.

Most of the tax revenues would go toward increased payments to doctors from California’s health care program for the poor.

(Read the fiscal analysis of the measure by California's non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office)

The measure is expected to draw massive spending from both sides – with doctors and billionaire political activist Tom Steyer supporting it and the tobacco industry opposing it. E-cigarette manufacturers say they’ll join the battle to defeat the initiative as well.

Californians have rejected the last two statewide tobacco tax ballot measures – most recently in 2012. The last time they approved a tobacco tax increase was 1998.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Californians have rejected the last "several" statewide tobacco tax ballot measures; in fact, voters have rejected the last two, in 2012 and 2006.