The Nov. 8 general election is quickly approaching. The election offers voters the opportunity to the chance to vote on propositions, such as the the $2 tax increase on tobacco.
This tax, Proposition 56, would increase the tax on tobacco and tobacco-related products like e-cigarettes. This would bring the tobacco tax to a total of $2.87, consequently raising the price of cigarettes to about $8 a pack.
There are more benefits of voting yes on the proposition than voting against it.
Implementing the tax can deter young adults from ever smoking in the first place.
90 percent of smokers start smoking before age 19, and e-cigarettes are on the rise among adults aged 18 to 24, said Eryn Brown of the L.A. Times.
The bill would curb smoking in youth by discouraging their purchase, while also using a portion of the tax to raise funds for tobacco-related health problems.
The rest of the money would go to replacing old revenue lost by the new tobacco tax, the cost of administering the tax, health insurance companies, care physicians and to enforce tobacco laws.
Smokers are directly affected by the tax, it would be like a user fee.
Every year, each family pays a tax of $413 to cover the medical costs for smokers. The tax would relieve the amount of money spent by tax paying non smokers.
40,000 Californians die every year from tobacco intake, says the California General Election Nov. 8, Official Voter Information Guide.
However, the number of adults smoking each year remains relatively the same because a new generation of smokers replace the older generation when they succumb to tobacco-related deaths.
California currently has a tobacco tax that is on the lower end compared to some states.
Though $2.87 might seem steep, New York has a tobacco tax of $4.35. A pack of 20 cigarettes can cost New Yorkers anywhere from $12 to $15.
Although the tax was meant to reduce tobacco intake, New York smokers began buying their cigarettes online to avoid paying the tax, said James Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores.
Some smokers argue that they do not quit when taxes are raised but quit when they are ready.But a higher tax would deter smokers because they would want to avoid feeding an expensive habit.
Opponents say that Proposition 56 cheats Proposition 98 from a few decades ago, a bill that says that 40 percent of all state taxes go towards funding for schools.
They say Proposition 56 cheats school out of money because it does not blatantly state that the taxes will go towards funding for education, but that most of the money will go to health insurance companies.
Supporters of Prop 56 argue that a portion of the tax actually does go toward schools.
“Make no mistake, Proposition 56 will not divert a dime away from schools,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in support of Prop 56. “Rather, it will raise revenues for school based tobacco prevention and intervention programs.”
Funding for tobacco prevention programs can make a difference in young lives.
Big tobacco businesses like Philip Morris, USA and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company have profited billions of dollars for decades and have contributed nearly $50 million combined to support the “No on 56” campaign to keep their business booming.
However, the increase in tax could be the reason smokers are forced to quit.
Some smokers might not mind paying the extra fee to indulge in a cigarette, but will be hit hard when they are dishing out nearly $10 per pack.
Smokers would be more discouraged to continue smoking and would be paying back the annual tax that non-smoking families pay.
Schools would benefit and the higher tax would stop the government from losing money because of lower tobacco sales.
Although it hurts the pockets of a select group of people, voting yes on Proposition 56 would benefit almost everyone in the long run.