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:
- 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.
- Saving lives. The California Department of Public Health has reported that the passage of this act will save 104,000 lives.
- 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