State Healthcare/Research Ballot Initiatives

How long will Big Tobacco be allowed to keep making billions while inflicting morbidity and mortality on the same scale?

Modern Healthcare, Nov 13, 2006 v36 i45 p7
Tobacco taxes snuffed out.
Mark Taylor

Healthcare providers were on the losing end of two major state ballot initiatives voted on last week-failed tobacco taxes that carried the potential to pour an extra $1 billion into healthcare.

The failure of the tobacco tax measures in California and Missouri were attributed to hardball tactics from Big Tobacco. “The absolute bottom line is the tobacco industry spent almost $70 million in an ad campaign full of outright lies and deception,” said Jan Emerson, a spokeswoman with the California Hospital Association, who noted that hospitals would have received $788 million annually for emergency care and expansion of children’s health programs.

Emerson said tobacco companies outspent hospitals and their supporters by a 5-to-1 margin, with companies such as Philip Morris USA among opponents contributing significant cash to defeat a measure that would have raised $2.1 billion annually from a tax increase of $2.60 per pack of cigarettes. Supporter of Proposition 86 spent about $14 million.

“We could not compete with that kind of ad spending. It’s a sad statement that out-of-state, Big Tobacco can come in and spend that kind of money to deceive voters. The health of Californians is still at risk and all of the problems we have still remain. It’s too soon to predict what we’ll do next.”

But Philip Morris USA spokesman Bill Phelps said: “We are gratified that voters have rejected Prop 86. And we will continue to work with others to address the serious issues surrounding tobacco use.”

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