SAN DIEGO. November 1, 2016– Will raising the tax $2 dollars per pack on cigarettes, while also increasing taxes on miscellaneous tobacco products and electronic cigarettes, make a difference to the health of Californians?
Proposition 56, known as a statewide ballot initiative aimed at funding healthcare, tobacco use prevention, research and law enforcement, is attempting to do just that.
If passed, Proposition 56 would also become a constitutional amendment and statute.
The proposed tax increase would raise state revenues approximately $1 billion dollars during years 2017 to 2018, according to the California Secretary of State.
It is believed that revenue increases would be utilized to support healthcare spending for California’s low income citizens.
What is the truth behind this controversial Proposition?
According to the California Legislative Analyst published in the Official Voter Information Guide, Californians consume a variety of tobacco containing products:
Cigarettes: Most common tobacco usage.
Other tobacco products: Includes cigars, chewing tobacco and other products consisting of 50% or more tobacco.
Electronic Cigarettes (E Cigarettes): Battery-operated cigarette-like devices which convert liquid into nicotine-containing vapor.
It was further reported that cigarette smokers in California comprised approximately 12% of adults in 2013; and, electronic cigarette smokers comprised approximately 4% of California adults during the same year.
Revenue generated from Proposition 56 would be allocated to State of California programs such as increasing existing tobacco tax funds, a variety of enforcement activities related to tobacco laws, University of California physician training for primary care and emergency care and research and prevention programs, Department of Public Health State Dental Program to provide training in prevention and treating dental disease and general tobacco prevention and control programs, increase funding to Medi-Cal, and increase funding to California Department of Education school programs which would be designed to prevent and reduce the use of tobacco.
Proponents of Proposition 56, with their slogan Save Lives California, believe smokers need to step-up and pay their fair share of healthcare-related costs associated with the negative effects of tobacco use, and the need for increasing prevention programs.
Those against Proposition 56 whose slogan is Stop the Special Interest Tax Grab, allege that only 13% of the revenue generated if this were passed, would actually be allocated to childhood prevention. They further say that increased revenues would fund the insurance industry and increased bureaucracy, and possibly bypass those needing to benefit from this measure.
Whatever side of the fence the voter might be on this year, both sides agree on one fundamental issue: Tobacco smoke kills people.
According to the American Lung Association, one of the sponsors of Prop 56 in conjunction with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the American Heart Association, reports that lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women across America–surpassing breast
cancer as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women.
The American Lung Association estimates that 158,000 Americans are expected to die from lung cancer in 2016.
Further, a staggering 1.8 million new cases of lung cancer, and 1.6 million deaths worldwide were attributed to lung cancer.
Though smoking tobacco products is not the only cause of lung cancer, it is highly attributed to the high rate of incidences.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, there are no safe tobacco products. In fact, the variety of chemicals found in cigarettes alone are so toxic, they beg to question the rationale for being a smoker. The following is a sampling of dangerous chemicals which are found in cigarettes:
-Carbon Monoxide: Found in car exhaust and cigarette smoke
-Lead: Found in old paint and cigarette smoke
-Formaldehyde: Found in embalming fluid and cigarette smoke
-Hydrogen cyanide: Found in insecticide and cigarette smoke
-Ammonia: Found in cleaning products and cigarette smoke
-Beryllium: Found in nuclear weapons and cigarette smoke
Not only are cigarettes and tobacco containing products extremely harmful to the smoker, the second-hand smoke that they produce is deadly to anyone coming in contact with it.
Regardless of whether California voters are for or against Proposition 56, the intrinsic value of this ballot initiative is that it continues the conversation which they need to hear.
Health is the most important asset possessed by all forms of life on Earth.
Toxins such as those found in cigarettes and other tobacco containing products are prevalent, accessible and highly detrimental to the goal of good health and prevention of disease.
Some form of taxation on every pack of cigarettes sold makes good sense to help with the high state-wide costs of treating tobacco-related diseases, while ensuring the well-being of future generations through education and prevention programs.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!