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Supporters of Defeated California Cigarette Tax Request Vote Recount

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Supporters of the California cigarette tax that was narrowly defeated last month are asking for a recount, the Associated Press reports.

According to unofficial ballot results, the $1-per-pack cigarette tax, which would have funded cancer research, lost by fewer than 30,000 votes, out of more than 5 million cast.

The recount was requested by San Francisco surgeon John Maa, a member of the American Heart Association. He asked the California Secretary of State’s office to recount 190 precincts in two Los Angeles County areas, which accounted for approximately 48,000 votes cast. Los Angeles Registrar Dean Logan said the recount will begin today with an electronic tally, followed by a manual count later in the week.

The measure, Proposition 29, was deemed too close to call for more than two weeks. 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. The initiative attracted national attention. Supporters included New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong.

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