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Prop 29 hits smokers' wallets

By Hudson Olander
On May 19, 2012

  This June, Californian voters will decide whether or not to pass Proposition 29, which will increase the tax on every box of cigarettes from 87 cents to $1.87. The additional tax revenue will be used for cancer research, smoking reduction programs, and tobacco law enforcement.
  Passing this proposition would mean extraordinarily good news for the National Cancer Institute, which currently has a dwindling budget. In fact, many organizations such as NCI have donated millions of dollars to try and ensure its passing.
  No one wants to come out against taxing cigarettes but there is legitimate opposition to Prop. 29.
  Cancer research is great but I would love to pay lower tuition every year and it distresses me that this money will leave the state and go to organizations based elsewhere. Why should Californians be footing the bill for issues that are a national concern.
  While this proposition isn't without faults, it will have one important merit: discouraging smokers from buying cigarettes. If people want to poison themselves then they should have every right to smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, and even do shots of liquid plumber if the mood strikes them.
  The problem is that as a society, we are striving for universal health care. That means that the taxes we pay will eventually go into maintaining some smoker's iron lung or tracheotomy.
  The number of health problems a smoker faces over a lifetime is monumental compared to those of a non-smoker. That's a financial burden we shouldn't have to shoulder. By discouraging the population from buying packs of cigarettes, Proposition 29 is saving all Californians money in the long run.
Hudson Olander is a Tower Staff Writer. E-mail him at

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