Lance Armstrong campaigns for California cigarette tax measure

Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France champion and cancer survivor, gets behind California’s Proposition 29, which would raise taxes on cigarettes to fund cancer research and other programs.

Reporting from Sacramento—

The proposal is simple: Raise taxes on cigarettes to pay for cancer research.

The impetus for it is typical of California, the merger and the ability to sell celebrity whims of state voters, who are increasingly called upon to address key policy issues.

A street vendor on the proposal 29, which will appear on the ballot in June, seven-time Tour de France champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, who asks voters to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $ 1. On Wednesday, he announced a $ 1.5 million contribution to the Texas base for even 29 campaigns.

“We believe that Prop. 29 will save lives, stop children from smoking and just might lead us to treatment,” he told reporters in a conference call.

If approved, this measure will raise more than $ 850 million a year, according to the nonpartisan legislative analyst with the state. The money will be used to fund cancer research, to build new facilities and research assistance to anti-smoking programs. Three percent of the reception wills Attorney General and local law enforcement agencies in combating the black market for cigarettes and crack down on retailers who sell tobacco products to minors.

The new nine-member citizen committee will distribute the money. The Governor and Director of Public Health will appoint a majority of the panel, which will also include the rectors of the University of California campuses at Berkeley, San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

Mark Paul, a former treasurer of the MP and co-author of “California Crackup”, a book on public administration, protests that this measure does not address the most pressing financial needs of the state.

“Like many other initiatives, it plays on the emotions of people,” he said. “Who likes to cancer? No one does. But when we increase training at universities and reduce the school year … and the closure of essential services, this is where we should spend our money?”

Those actively fighting measures, including tobacco companies and anti-tax group, the object that he raised the money will be distributed without any control by the legislature or any other elected officials.

“Proportional 29 the mandate of a huge new bureaucracy with little accountability of taxpayers,” said Teresa Casazza, President of the Assn of California taxpayers.

Philip Morris spent $ 2.5 million on campaign consultants and polling to strengthen its position in relation to the initiative, and this number is expected to multiply as the June 5 main approaches to the election.

Jim Knox, spokesman for the American Cancer Society, defends the measure, noting that tobacco companies have blocked dozens of proposed tax increase on their products to the Legislature.

“Using tobacco taxes to pay for cancer research makes sense,” he said. “Tobacco use causes cancer. Connection is very direct.”

Armstrong, who said he’ll campaign so far, in California, when his triathlon training schedule allows, is the latest celebrity to use the voting public to press animal causes.

In 1998, actor and director Rob Reiner successfully pushed 50 cents per pack tax on tobacco to pay for child development programs. Second Rainer supported the proposal, the growth of income taxes to fund universal preschool upper, was strongly rejected by voters in 2006. Arnold Schwarzenegger persuaded voters in 2002 to devote part of the state taxes, after school programs in the movement, which has become a test for the governor’s proposal for next year.

Armstrong has helped to convince the voters of Texas to transfer $ 3 billion bond measure for tobacco research in 2007. He has sent mixed signals about his political aspirations, but left the door open on Wednesday, saying the run was not in his plans “at this point in my life.” He said that he could trigger cancer, similar to measures relating to other states.

Armstrong and his allies, including the American Heart Assn. and the American Lung Assn., in addition to the American Cancer Society, California will promote their cause to the public that rejected a variety of tax increases in recent years, including tobacco taxes. In 2006, in addition to the denial of income tax measure Reiner, voters rejected a proposal to increase taxes on cigarettes by $ 2.60 pachku reimburse hospitals for treating uninsured patients, and expanded health insurance for children.

Least this year, was conceived by former state Senate leader and cancer survivor Don Perata, a Democrat from Oakland, who intended to combine with his run for mayor there in 2010. This initiative would give him a high-profile champion of the cause, as he appealed to voters to trust him.

Perata work of Armstrong, but ultimately scotched measures in 2010 vote, after anti-cancer group asked him to wait until they have helped to REFIN



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