Proposition 29: Cons

No on Prop. 29 (or Californians Against Out-of-Control Taxes and Spending) Proponents/Funders: Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds, and more. Complete list can be found here.

  • Proposition 29 would raise tax on cigarettes sold in California by $1 a pack.
  • Proposition 29 uses new tax revenues for a narrow purpose.
  • If passed, Proposition 29 could allow tax dollars to fund out-of-state research.
  • The revenues from the increase in cigarette tax would be used to create a new bureaucracy in the state.
  • The new state agency would replicate functions and funding of the federal entity National Institutes of Health.
  • Proposition 29 creates a large new medical research program, California Cancer Research Life Sciences Innovation Trust Fund.
  • Potential for lack of accountability with the new agency’s Cancer Reseach Citizens Oversight Committee, a 9-member board consisting of three University of California chancellors, three from state’s cancer centers, physician from a California Academic Medical Center and two members from advocacy groups.
  • The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board is against Proposition 29 specifically due to accountability questions, citing: “There would be an annual audit of the agency, but no clear way for the state — the Legislature, the governor or anyone — to fix any flaws or problems that became evident.”
  • California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office predicts the tax would raise $735 million a year, but this figure would likely decline in future years.
  • 25 cents per pack of cigarettes under the state’s current cigarette tax already goes to tobacco education programs.
  • The Los Angeles Times does not support the measure, claiming: “It just doesn’t make sense for the state to get into the medical research business to the tune of half a billion dollars a year when it has so many other important unmet needs.”
  • While modeled after Proposition 71, which created a stem-cell agency with $3 billion in bond funding eight years ago, the older initiative provided a defined amount of money for research. Proposition 29 would spend more. In contrast, as the LA Times points out, Proposition 71 also “created a structure under which the state and its taxpayers could share in royalties and licenses from new discoveries.”
  • There can be no changes made to the Act by the Cancer Research Citizens Oversight Committee for 15 years.