Guest stop: Yes on 29

Today is election day. The June ballot in California this year isn’t terribly exciting; rest assured, Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee for President.

But there is Proposition 29.

Prop 29 imposes a $1.00 tax on cigarette packs. Thus, financially, it affects only those who smoke, and nobody else. California currently ranks 33rd in the nation in its tobacco tax (at just 87 cents), and hasn’t raised its tax in 13 years.

Sometimes arguments crumble under the weight of statistics, but it would do a disservice to everyone not to include a few below.

To start, 88 percent of addicted smokers begin before they reach the age of 18. If Prop 29 passes, a projected 228,000 California kids won’t become addicted adult smokers. If Prop 29 passes, 22,000 smoking-affected births will be avoided in California over the next five years. If Prop 29 passes, $735 million will be raised to spend on cancer research and tobacco prevention in the state of California. These funds will be allocated by a nine-member committee, and not the “huge new government bureaucracy” opponents would have you believe.

Unsurprisingly, Prop 29 is supported by the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and a multitude of other health organizations.

No on 29 has spent over $40 million on TV, radio and internet advertisements. That makes sense, since their campaign is bankrolled by tobacco companies like Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds. Tobacco companies already spend $656 million every year in California alone recruiting consumers; they need young people to continue becoming addicted.

This isn’t new information: Smoking causes cancer, directly and indirectly. Fewer smokers makes our parents, our friends, our children and us healthier. It makes our community healthier.

Stand up to Big Tobacco. Cigarette companies only care about getting their next generation of customers hooked on their product. Prop 29 increases cancer research and decreases smoking. It weakens tobacco companies and saves lives. That is why Big Tobacco will do and say anything to defeat it. Do you really trust them to be honest?

Please don’t forget to vote Yes on Proposition 29 today. Check out proposition29.org if you have any other questions or concerns.

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