Voters in California yesterday narrowly rejected a ballot measure that would have increased the state tobacco tax by $1 a pack to raise an estimated $441 million a year for research on cancer and other tobacco-related illnesses. Had it passed, Proposition 29 would have made California one of the world's largest funders of cancer research. Supporters, led by the American Cancer Society and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, argued that the measure would also save thousands of lives by discouraging smoking.
A poll in late March found that 68% of likely voters supported the measure, but that was before tobacco companies and other opponents mounted a vigorous campaign against it. Opponents raised nearly $47 million to defeat the measure, including $27.5 million from Philip Morris alone. Television and radio ads portrayed the measure as creating a burdensome bureaucracy that would do nothing to help the state's budget woes.
At the polls yesterday, 49.2% of voters supported Proposition 29, and 50.8% voted against it.