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More on the tobacco tax/cancer research measure

A few choice tidbits from today’s rollout of a proposed ballot measure to hike the state’s cigarette tax by a dollar per pack to fund cancer research, for which I didn’t have room in the article I wrote for tomorrow’s editions

Don Perata, who said he conceived of the measure while still in the state Senate and well before being diagnosed with and treated for prostate cancer earlier this year, said he’s not sure he wants to become the “face” of this campaign, a task better left to allies such as the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association. “Whatever I am, I’m still a politician. If you’re an old Catholic, it’s kind of like original sin.”

Nor will he serve on the “Californians for a Cure” campaign committee’s steering board, which will be made up of representatives from the health advocacy groups. “None of these people have vested self interests, none of these people are going to make a dime.”

Perata noted own cancer treatment seems to have been successful. “Some might question my mental health, but my physical condition is really good.”

And, from the nascent measure’s likely opponents…

From Bill Phelps, spokesman for Altria, the parent company of tobacco giant Phillip Morris USA:

“It’s important to remember that the Legislature just passed a budget a few months ago that includes more than $12 billion in tax increases, and this latest idea would raise taxes by almost a billion dollars. Given the state of the economy, we don’t think this is the time to be raising taxes again.”

From California Taxpayers’ Association communications director David Kline:

“We have not yet taken a position, but I anticipate that the California Taxpayers’ Association will oppose the measure based on our view that Californians already have been hit with major tax increases this year, and another tax increase would hurt the economy. With unemployment over 12 percent in California, we need to be looking for ways to improve the economy, not hold it back. Also, the tobacco tax is a declining revenue source, and we have historically opposed initiatives that base ongoing spending on declining revenue sources, because this is a recipe for more budget problems in the future.”

From Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal:

“We have opposed tobacco tax hikes in the past and will almost certainly oppose this one as well.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Lars Ulno

    Another BILLION dollars in taxes?

    Why stop there? Why not add $100 a pack in taxes? Why not a $1000? Why not a $1 million?

    These lunatic dictators will never stop until they force their lifestyle choices onto everyone else. Freedom takes a distant backseat to their desires to control everyone, for the benefit of the “people”.

  • Elwood

    A good rule of thumb for CA voters:

    If Perata is pushing it, vote NO without even thinking.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Let’s do a trade, kids: Your handguns and assault rifles for cartons of cigarettes. That way, the gang members won’t die as quickly or kill innocent civilians.