Democrats back tobacco tax on June ballat at San Diego convention


City News Service

The California Democratic Party voted today to back measures on the June ballot that would raise the tax on tobacco products to fund research into cancer and other smoking-related illness and loosen term limits as it concluded its three-day convention at the San Diego Convention Center.

Proposition 29 would increase the tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack and similarly raise the tax on other tobacco products. Its backers, including retired cycling champion Lance Armstrong, a campaign co-chair, say it passage will help find a cure for cancer, fund research and stop youngsters from smoking.

The measure is opposed by a variety of chambers of commerce and taxpayer associations.

“We all believe cancer research is important, but this measure is flawed and poorly written,” California Taxpayers Association President Teresa Casazza said.

“At a time when California is faced with a crippling budget deficit, we can’t afford to start a new program spending nearly $1 billion a year, especially with no accountability to the taxpayers,” Casazza said.

Proposition 28 would limit a person to serving 12 years in the Legislature. Current law limits a person to serving six years in the Assembly and eight in the Senate. It would not apply to any sitting legislators.

Supporters say passage of Proposition 28 would make the Legislature more effective by having more experienced legislators. Philip Blumel, of U.S. Term Limits, which opposes the measure, said it would favor incumbents and their re- election rate “would skyrocket.”

A similar measure, Proposition 93, was defeated by voters in the 2008 February primary election.