A measure to raise the cigarette tax by $1 per pack in California failed by less than one percentage point after the vote was deemed too close to call for more than two weeks, the Associated Press reports.
About five million residents cast votes. Opponents of the measure, known as Proposition 29, led by about 28,000 votes. As of Friday, about 105,000 voted remained uncounted, but AP determined that there were not enough places where “yes” votes were in the lead in order for the measure to win.
Proposition 29, which was popular among voters earlier this year, lost support due to a $50 million ad campaign funded by the tobacco industry. The campaign raised questions about who would oversee revenue raised by the measure, how it would be spent and whether it would stay in the state.
The measure would have raised an estimated $735 million per year, with about 75 percent going to cancer research. Initial results indicated that 50.8 percent of voters were against the measure, while 49.2 percent were in favor of it. On Friday, AP said Proposition 29 was failing 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent.
The initiative attracted national attention. Supporters included New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong.
Supporters of the measure said they will try to pass it again. “This came so close, I think this is worth another try,” said Stan Glantz of the University of California, San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. “I think it would be horrible if Philip Morris and Reynolds get away with this.”