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Op-Ed: Vote Yes on Proposition 29

by Richard Gray, published


As a doctor who has seen many lives destroyed by cigarette smoking, and as a dedicated American Heart Association volunteer, I urge voters not to be fooled by Big Tobacco.

Despite what you’ve seen on television, and counter to the mail stuffing your mailboxes, Proposition 29 doesn’t tax all Californians, won’t send millions of dollars to out-of-state researchers and won’t hurt our schools.

Please consider the source. The fact is Prop 29 is opposed – almost singularly -- by Big Tobacco and their agents. In many of their ads, they attempted to hide behind one doctor who has a history of siding with them and chemical industries. Now they’re running ads with someone posing as a researcher to tell you about bureaucracies and other made-up issues.

Let’s be clear: all the lies you are hearing about Proposition 29 are being paid for and poll tested by the Big Tobacco companies who are trying to confuse voters into doing what you know is right – Voting YES on Proposition 29.

Think about this: right now, cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer in California, with 30 percent of these deaths attributed to smoking. We have a chance to change the tide with Prop 29. This proposed $1 tobacco tax – paid only by those who purchase tobacco products – will save 104,000 lives, stop 228,000 kids from smoking and generate more than $735 million every year to support advances in the prevention, detection and treatment of heart disease, cancer and other smoking-related illnesses.

Prop 29 was written by the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the American Lung Association and includes important safeguards and strict accountability. Oversight is governed by a nine-member committee of California’s leading research experts, representatives of disease advocacy organizations and survivors. Prop 29 protects taxpayers with criminal penalties for misuse of funds. The measure also was clearly written to ensure money is spent on research in California, at California facilities, by California scientists and doctors.

Prop 29 won’t hurt our schools. It has nothing to do with the state mandated guarantee to our public schools. In fact, both Superintendent Tom Torlakson and the State PTA support Prop 29 because they know it will keep an estimated 228,000 kids from ever taking up the habit – saving thousands from death by cancer and other smoking–related diseases.

Tobacco companies know Prop 29 will work, that’s why they are spending millions to convince voters it’s bad for California. Don’t be fooled by Big Tobacco’s smokescreen. Who do you think has Californians' best interests in mind – the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and American Lung Association, or the tobacco companies that have been addicting Americans to their deadly products for decades?

We think your choice is pretty simple. Please vote Yes on Proposition 29.

Dr. Richard Gray

President, American Heart Association, Western States Affiliate

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