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Plans to boost Calif. cigarette tax too close to call (11-3-98)

Voters get their say on ballot initiatives (10-30-98)


Election '98 special


Post your opinions on the November races

Measure to boost California's cigarette tax still undecided

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, November 5) -- The outcome of a California ballot measure that would increase cigarette taxes to pay for health care for children is still too close to call two days after the election.

With over 7 million votes counted, Proposition 10 leads by a thin margin. Its fate will be determined by returns from absentee and provisional ballots.

If approved, Proposition 10 would make California's cigarette tax the third-highest in the nation, raising state taxes on cigarettes from 37 cents to 87 cents a pack.


Assistant Secretary of State for Communications Beth Miller estimates that the ballots already counted represent approximately 25 percent of the total votes cast in Tuesday's election. At least 400,000 absentee and provisional ballots must still be tallied and Miller said that the state hopes to have the final number of ballots by midday Thursday.

The close vote came after a last-minute infusion of millions in tobacco money for TV ads blasting the measure as a well-meaning but poorly defined law that would create a huge bureaucracy.

A poll last week showed opposition growing as the tobacco companies inundated the airwaves with these ads. The measure was favored by a margin of 50 percent to 41 percent, compared to 48 percent to 33 percent in early October.

Late in the campaign, some black and Hispanic leaders denounced the measure as hitting hard at minority low-income smokers, sending out a mailer that declared the measure to be "the brainchild of a bunch of social engineers who DO NOT share our culture or our heritage."

Proposition 10 was expected to generate an estimated $700 million annually for social services aimed at families with children under 5, including prenatal care, stop-smoking programs, immunizations and domestic violence prevention.

Actor and Director Rob Reiner led the campaign for the proposition.


Thursday, November 5, 1998

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