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By Miriam Raftery

The tobacco industry has thus far spent $38 million in its efforts to snuff out Proposition 29.  But supporters, including leading medical professionals and major newspapers statewide, say big tobacco is using a "smokescreen" of false statements and urge voters not to be deceived.

A quick fact check (see links below) prove the tobaco industry is continuing its long track record of making provably untrue statements to the detriment of public health.

The California ballot initiative asks voters to approve an addition $1 per pack tax on cigarettes and equivalent tax increase on other tobacco products to fund research for cancer and other tobacco related diseases as well as smoking prevention and stop smoking programs. The measure would raise an estimated $735 million a year starting in the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The measure is supported by the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association as well as the California Medical Association. Supporters say it will save lives, help cure deadly diseases, prevent kids from starting smoking, and ultimately save taxpayers money by reducing medical costs associated with smoking-related illnesses.

Opponents led by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Philip Morris USA have launched attack ads claiming the measure will “create more bureaucracy, taxes and spending.” The tobacco industry has launched ads that are riddled with numerous false statements. Those ads claim no funds will be provided for cancer treatment and that tax dollars will be spent out of state, for example.

Major newspapers have editorialized against Prop 29 and criticized the tobacco industry for false statements in ads. “It’s amazing how many deceptions can be packed into 60 second,” the San Francisco Chronicle concluded. The Sacramento Bee urged voters to reject the “hired guns of the tobacco barons.”

Even the staunchly conservative UT San Diego editorial board endorsed Prop 29, stating, “ Don’t be deceived. The 50-member board of the California Medical Association, which represents 35,000 doctors in the state, voted without dissent to support the measure. And the initiative’s statement of purpose clearly emphasizes that the revenue is to be used inside California.

Any regular reader of the U-T San Diego editorial page knows that we do not often support tax increases. But we support this one. It’s good for public health. It’s good for San Diego and California. And it’s good for California kids. We strongly endorse and urge a “yes” vote on Proposition 29.

Supporters of Prop 29 are fighting back with ads of their own urging voters not to be fooled by the tobacco industry’s “smokescreen.” One TV ad asks “How has big tobacco kept California’s cigarette prices among the lowest in the nation? With lies.” The ad also criticizes a doctor speaking for the tobacco industry and urges voters to “get a second opinion.” View the ad

Read full text of initiative:

Voter info guide from Secretary of State:

YesonProp29 :

No on Prop 29:

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