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Californians Vote Today on Prop. 29

Voters cast ballots on a divisive cigarette tax bill. The Fix reports from the polls.

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Supporters say the bill would save lives.
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By Valerie Tejeda

06/05/12

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Californians are heading to the polls today to cast their votes on the highly controversial Proposition 29—a measure that would add a $1 tax to each pack of cigarettes sold in the state. The millions of dollars a year generated would be put towards research on cancer and other diseases related to smoking, as well as smoking cessation and prevention programs in California. Millions of dollars have been poured into both supporting and opposing the measure—with the tobacco industry forking over a hefty $47 million on advertisements opposing the proposition, and NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg paying out of his own pocket to support the bill. Those against say it will do nothing to solve the state’s budget crisis and will be bad for business. Those in favor believe the bill could kill two birds with one stone—both reducing smoking and supporting medical research. 

Judging by the mood near the polls at the California state capitol in Sacramento, it seems voters are fairly evenly split; of those who speak with The Fix, half are in favor. “I voted yes on 29,” one Sacramento man tells us. “Anything to get people to smoke less, I’m on board with.” But a 27-year-old woman who works near the state’s capitol thinks the bill is a big scam: “As a smoker I don’t believe it’s the government's job to try and manipulate us to quit smoking,” she argues. “For now, I will smoke regardless of what happens with 29, and the extra cost will be annoying.” Whichever way the vote falls, the controversy won't end with the result.

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