3

Dentists ante up for cigarette tax hike

The California Dental Association said Tuesday it will kick in $1 million to help pass a proposed ballot measure that would raise California’s cigarette tax by $2 per pack and impose similar taxes on e-cigarettes.

That would bring the Save Lives California committee’s war chest to $6 million so far; the committee already has received $3 million from the Service Employees International Union’s California State Council; $1 million from the California Medical Association; and $1 million from hedge fund billionaire turned environmentalist Tom Steyer of San Francisco.

“Our contribution reflects the importance of this initiative to save lives and prevent more people from suffering the devastating effects of smoking-related diseases such as oral cancer and gum disease that dentists see every day in their practices,” California Dental Association President Ken Wallis said in a news release. “This measure will combat tobacco use and help fund essential programs to improve the oral health as well as the overall health of our most vulnerable Californians.”

The measure’s proponents are circulating petitions now; they must collect signatures from 585,407 registered voters by June 13 in order to qualify the measure for November’s ballot.

It’s likely to be a costly battle. California voters rejected a $1-per-pack increase in 2012 after tobacco companies outspent proponents about 4-to-1; that measure was defeated by just four-tenths of a percentage point, the narrowest defeat of any statewide measure in California’s history.

(I considered including a photo of a long-time smoker’s teeth, but the images I found were far too gross. You’re welcome.)

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.

  • Any who sympathize with tobacco using citizens, ostracized and “sin taxed” at rates ever more cruel and unusual, please “Share” or link to this song if you like it. “If You’re Not Buying Cigarettes then What Kind of Citizen ARE You?”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpXjVq5Q6S0

  • JohnW

    Not sure what to make of this, but it sure is funny. I still remember lining up in formation in Army basic training way back when, after a five mile march, and the drill sergeant telling us to “Light ’em up if you got ’em.”

  • JohnW

    If you think posting a photo of a smoker’s teeth would be gross, try a photo of the lungs. Hard to imagine we used to put up with sitting in expensive restaurants choking on smoke from other patrons, or in airplanes doing the same.