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Vote YES on Prop 29

I would like to raise awareness of Prop 29, the California Cancer Research Act. Prop 29 is a $1 surcharge on each pack of cigarettes sold in the State.

By Matthew Sirott, MD

I would like to raise awareness of Prop 29, the California Cancer Research Act. Prop 29 is a $1 surcharge on each pack of cigarettes sold in the State.  The purposes of the proposition include:

  1.  Raising funds for cancer research (and other cigarette related disease, including heart disease).  Expected to raise over 600 million dollars yearly, the money is sorely needed as other research funds have dwindled.
  2. Saving lives.  The California Department of Public Health has reported that the passage of this act will save 104,000 lives.
  3.  Preventing children from smoking.  The California Department of public Health has also estimated that 228,000 kids will stop (or never begin) smoking because of the increased cost. 

Prop 29 has safeguards and accountability.  The money will stay in California and go to California based research projects.  The dollars cannot be siphoned off for other projects.  Administrative costs are limited to 2%.  Funding decisions are determined by an independent panel of leading research organizations, public health advocates, cancer researchers and doctors, and cancer survivors.

Arguments against this proposition usually are raised by the “no new taxes” organizations.  The prop is a two-edged sword; either way it cuts to the heart of illness.  If smokers continue to smoke, then money is raised for cancer research and treatment.  If smokers rebel against the new tax and quit, then the bill is even more successful.  Lives are saved and health care costs drop. Nobody HAS to pay this tax!

The major potential losers by passage of the proposition are the big tobacco companies.  If passed, cigarette sales are expected to drop significantly.  The very powerful tobacco lobby will spend millions of dollars to mislead and misconstrue the purposes of the bill.  They will talk about taking money from schools, taking money from existing revenues, the effects on current budgets and draining funds out of California. 

The physicians and staff of Diablo Valley Oncology wholeheartedly support prop 29.   It is bad for the tobacco companies, but good for the health of all Californians. Lives will be saved, kids and adults will quit smoking, and important research will be funded.  Vote YES on Prop 29 in June. 

Dr. Sirott is a Medical Oncologist and Hematologist with Diablo Valley Oncology. 925-677-5041

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Ken Roberts May 16, 2012 at 11:37 PM
I have to disagree here. Prop 29 is going to bring in nearly 1 billion dollars in tax revenue that does nothing to fix our budget problems or fund education. It targets smokers to create a large fund that is overseen by a politically appointed committee. I realize the intentions are good, but I don't feel good about this...and i'm a cancer survivor. This state has a rich history of voter funded 'good deeds' that have run out of control. The "First Five Commission" created by Prop. 10 in 1998, mismanaged its public funds. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine created by Prop. 71 paid its employees insane salaries of up to $500,000 a year and is still untangling their conflict of interest issues. Don't even get me started with the High Speed Rail Commission..what a farce. As I said, I'm a cancer survivor and I support continued research but this bill isn't what our state needs right now.
Shayna Jung May 16, 2012 at 11:48 PM
My mom died of lung cancer this year at just 46 years old. I believe this tax, which is only paid by smokers, may have further motivated her to quit smoking, or the research may helped save/extend her life. Who knows, it may have also kept her from beginning to smoke when she was a teenager. I think this is a great step in the right direction.
Lori Garcia May 17, 2012 at 12:50 PM
My Mother was a smoker since she was 16. I grew up in a house surrounded by yellow walls and breathing in 2nd hand smoke. My sisters and I have had bronchitis more times than we can count. She stopped smoking ten years before her death but the damage had already been done. My Mother lived with my husband and I the last year of her life as she fought lung cancer. She would call me to sit by her bed at night until she fell asleep because she had such a hard time breathing and she was afraid she would suffocate. The daughter was now the Mother and I was the one holding her hand and comforting her. If charging $1 tax on cigarettes will educate our children and support cancer research AND possibly make someone think twice from buying that pack I will gladly support it. No one should ever have to see a person suffer like my Mother did due to something that could have been prevented. The tobacco industry's arguments against Proposition 29 are misleading. Proposition 29 won't hurt our schools; Superintendent Tom Torlakson and the state PTA support it. Proposition 29 won't send money out of state – the initiative is clear that money goes to California researchers in California institutions. Big Tobacco doesn't care about those issues, or any of the lies their TV and radio ads claim … they care only about their profits. Prop 29 is supported by the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and the American Lung Assocaition. Vote YES on Prop 29 June 5th.
Bryn Thenell May 17, 2012 at 05:28 PM
We already pay for to smoking related illness - be it cancer, heart disease, stroke or chronic lung problems - in the form of increased health care costs and lost productivity due to illness. Not to mention the suffering that goes along with all those illnesses. Speaking as a former health care professional and an ex-smoker, anything that will reduce, and more importantly prevent smoking gets my vote. It's time for the tobacco companies to realize that they are simply selling the wrong product, and it seems the best way to get their attention is to try and legislate against their products. Check out "A Question of Intent" by David Kessler.
WENDY LACK May 19, 2012 at 05:32 AM
Even the left-of-center LA Times editorial board opposes Prop 29 (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/27/opinion/la-ed-prop29-20120427) because it spends millions on a huge new state bureaucracy without accountability. Prop 29's provisions could not be changed for the first 15 years and, even then, only with and OK from the bureaucracy funded by this tax (like that would ever happen) AND a 2/3 approval of both state houses. California's bureaucracy is bloated and needs cutting, not growth. Voters are being played by those who will profit from the creation of a new state entity. Good intentions do not always lead to good consequences. The stem cell research funding approved by voters several years ago is a good example -- the researchers involved have said, time and again, that their research is over-funded and there's no way humanly possible that they could ever spend all of the money. And this -- even as the state budget deficit is ~$17 billion-with-a-B in the red. Adding to state taxpayers' burden is madness. Vote no on Prop 29. See the fact sheet put together by the California Taxpayers Association here: http://www.caltax.org/Proposition29FactSheetFeb2012.pdf

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