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Tobacco Companies Give $17 Million To Defeat Cigarette Tax

Luciano Belviso / Flickr
 

Luciano Belviso / Flickr

(AP) - Tobacco companies are giving about $17 million to defeat a proposed cigarette tax that's quickly attracting some of the highest spending among the initiatives on California's November ballot.

R.J. Reynolds and Altria affiliates reported giving $16 million in cash and nearly $1 million in non-monetary contributions to defeat a proposed $2 tax on each pack of cigarettes.

Altria spokeswoman Beth Miller says the donations reported Friday will go toward advertising, polling and mailers opposing the measure.

Medical groups and the state's largest union have raised more than $14 million in favor of the cigarette tax initiative.

It's one of 17 that have qualified for the November ballot.

A proposal to extend a tax on wealthy earners to build public schools has received more than $26 million in contributions.