No issue has been touchier in the 2012 California primary season than proposition 29, also known as the Tobacco Tax for Cancer Research Act. The issue has divided voters almost directly down the middle, with 50.4 percent opposed to the measure and 49.6 percent in favor, as of June 12th.
In a nutshell, the measure seeks to impose a cigarette tax increase of $1.00 per pack. Currently, the tax amounts to 87 cents per pack, so a victory for prop 29 would result in a total tax of almost $2.00 for each pack of cigarettes sold. Perhaps the issue has been so divisive because both the proponents and opponents have made strong cases and spent millions of dollars in advertising.
Proponents argue that passing the tax increase would result in millions of dollars a year toward cancer research. Smoking is recognized by the CDC and other major organization as a leading cause of many cancers and the money raised for research could potentially lead to the discovery of new cures. To break it down, analysts have estimated that $468 million per year would go directly toward the research of cancer and other tobacco-related diseases, and another $117 million would go toward facilities that conduct this valuable research. Additionally, $156 million would be used for tobacco prevention.
On the other side of the issue, opponents have argued that the measure is poorly written and has little oversight from outside agencies. Former Deputy State Treasurer Mark Paul argued that the state has more urgent and pressing issues, like the fact that university tuition continues to rise and young people are struggling to afford an education. Thomas Briant, former executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, argued that California already suffers from illegal contraband trafficking of cigarettes and increased taxes would further empower this black market and lead to increased illegal activity.
Supporters of prop 29 include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and Nobel laureate Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, as well as the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association in California and the American Heart Association. Opponents include the California Republican Party, Philip Morris USA, the California Taxpayers Association, FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity.
There are also philosophical arguments both for and against the measure. Proponents may argue that increased taxes reduce tobacco use and therefore have the potential to save millions of lives and prop 29 therefore promotes the common good. Opponents may argue that the decision to smoke is a matter of personal freedom and smokers therefore should not be penalized simply for exercising that freedom.
It is unclear whether cigarette alternatives such as electronic cigarettes would be affected by the measure. Electronic cigarettes emit no actual smoke, but instead release a flavored liquid vapor that instantly evaporates. These liquids, or “e-Liquids,” are available in a variety of different flavors, making e-cigs a much more versatile alternative to traditional cigarettes.
As more and more tax laws like prop 29 are passed across the nation, e-cigarettes are also becoming a much more cost effective alternative for many consumers. Once again, each state uses its own discretion in defining what qualifies as a “cigarette,” and prop 29 is fairly ambiguous on this matter, but even if new tax increases do affect the electronic substitutes, consumers can still save a fortune, because electronic cigarettes can be used over and over again.
So why spend $1.87 in tax for a pack of cigarettes in California, or a whopping $4.35 per pack in New York, when you can invest in a one-time electronic kit and just stock up on liquids when you need them? AmericaneLiquidStore carries a variety of kits for beginners and seasoned e-cig enthusiasts alike, as well as over 33 flavors of e Liquids and a variety of useful accessories. Why not make the switch and save yourself a fortune in tobacco costs every year?