Californians may vote on cigarette tax hike
March 6, 2015
A coalition of health groups and California lawmakers is proposing an initiative to raise the state tobacco tax by $2 a pack. [LA Times]
Democratic Senator Richard Pan has introduced a bill that would send the initiative to California voters. Two thirds of the Legislature and the governor must approve the bill, though, for it to become a ballot measure.
Pan, a physician, says the $2 cigarette tax hike would raise $1.4 billion annually. The funds would go to smoking prevention and research, as well as expanded health care services for Medi-Cal patients.
Currently, the state levies an 87-cent tax on a pack of 20 cigarettes, in addition to a federal tax of $1.01 a pack. If the proposal were to become law, the combined tax on a pack of cigarettes in California would increase from $1.88 to $3.88
Pan states that California currently has the 33rd highest state tobacco tax. His plan would put California’s tobacco tax rate at eighth in the nation.
Supporters of the proposal say they are planning a signature drive in case Pan’s bill does not get through the Legislature. Backers of the initiative say they will work to get the measure on the November 2016 ballot.
Attempts to raise the state tobacco tax have failed seven times since 2002.