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Outcome Uncertain for California Tobacco Tax Measure, Poll Suggests

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A new poll suggests shrinking support for a California ballot measure that would add a $1 tax to each pack of cigarettes. Voters will decide the outcome on Tuesday.

Currently, 50 percent of likely voters say they support the measure, while 42 percent are opposed, and 8 percent are undecided, Reuters reports. Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo told the news service the findings suggest support for the measure, Proposition 29, could be even further reduced in the coming days. “With an eight-point lead it has a better than even chance of passage but it’s going to be a close election,” he said.

In March, the measure had greater support. A survey found 67 percent of likely voters said they would vote for Proposition 29. Since then, the tobacco industry has waged an advertising campaign against the measure. The new survey results suggest the ad campaign has been successful, the article notes. 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.

Proponents of the tax say it is expected to raise more than $800 million for research on tobacco-related diseases and prevention programs. They estimate the tax raise will prevent 220,000 young people from starting to smoke, and encourage 100,000 smokers to quit.

The proposal calls for 60 percent of the money raised to be used to support research on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and potential cures for tobacco-related diseases. An additional 15 percent would be used to build or lease facilities, or to be spent on equipment, while 20 percent would be used for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The remaining 5 percent would be used for law enforcement programs to reduce illegal sales to minors and smuggling, and administrative costs.

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