Perata’s tobacco tax qualfied for 2012 primary

The California Cancer Research Act, a tobacco-tax-for-cancer-research ballot measure that Oakland mayoral candidate and former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata helped launch and fund, was certified yesterday by Secretary of State Debra Bowen for the Feb. 7, 2012 presidential primary election ballot.

As I’d reported when they submitted the petition signatures at the end of June, Perata and his allies – including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids – hope the high voter turnout of a presidential election year will help the measure, even as it’s attacked by the tobacco industry and anti-tax groups.

But the way I see it, the 2012 Democratic presidential primary isn’t likely to be heavily contested, as incumbent President Barack Obama presumably will seek a second term; the Republican presidential primary is much likelier to be a hot fight, with more press, advertising and voter turnout. And Republicans are far less likely than Democrats to vote for taxes of any kind.

The Attorney General’s official title and summary of the initiative is as follows:

IMPOSES ADDITIONAL TAX ON CIGARETTES FOR CANCER RESEARCH. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Imposes additional five cent tax on each cigarette distributed ($1.00 per pack), and an equivalent tax increase on other tobacco products, to fund cancer research and other specified purposes. Requires tax revenues be deposited into a special fund to finance research and research facilities focused on detecting, preventing, treating, and curing cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and other tobacco-related diseases, and to finance prevention programs. Creates nine-member committee charged with administering the fund. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increase in new cigarette tax revenues of about $855 million annually by 2011-12, declining slightly annually thereafter, for various health research and tobacco-related programs. Increase of about $45 million annually to existing health, natural resources, and research programs funded by existing tobacco taxes. Increase in state and local sales taxes of about $32 million annually. (09-0097.)

To qualify, it needed 433,971 valid petition signatures, which is 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the November 2006 general election. But an initiative can qualify via random sampling, without further verification, if the sampling projects a number of valid signatures greater than 110 percent of the required number; this initiative needed at least 477,369 projected valid signatures to qualify by random sampling, and it did so.

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.

  • Elwood

    If Don Perata is for it, I’m for it.

    He’s never been indicted!