Local Politics: Proposition 56

Local Politics: Proposition 56

Gamin Kim, Opinions Editor

Currently, the average for the California tobacco tax is $1.65. Fourteen states have lower tobacco taxes, but over 30 states and the District of Columbia have a tobacco tax that is higher. On November 8, if Proposition 56 is passed, the tax would increase to $2.00, and with the tobacco excise tax of $0.87, people would need to pay a total of $2.87 per cigarette product including e-cigarettes.

The proposition permits the taxes from tobacco products be donated to physician training, prevention and treatment of dental diseases, and school programs focusing on tobacco-use prevention and reduction.

What voting “yes” means on Proposition 56:

Voting yes would mean that the proposition passes and the cigarette tax would increase to a total of $2.87 per tobacco-product to benefit the research and healthcare sectors. Supporters for the “Yes on 56”campaign such as the California Democratic Party and the Green Party of California have made the following arguments:

  1. The proposition would prevent youth smoking and would also address tobacco marketing aimed at youth. Higher tobacco taxes would also protect children from tobacco addiction.
  2. The proposition would reduce tobacco-related healthcare costs and would help pay for those costs.  Lowering tobacco-related healthcare costs would result in saving lives for people with cancer and other tobacco-related diseases.
  3. It would also create transparency for the revenue generated from the tobacco tax and benefit school programs and physicians working to prevent tobacco use.

What voting “no” means on Proposition 56:

  Voting no would mean that the proposition does not pass and the cigarette tax would not increase to a total of $2.87 per tobacco-product. Supporters for “No on 56” such as the California Republican Party and the Libertarian Party have made the following arguments in opposition:

  1. The proposition would fund insurance companies than it would fund treatments for smoking-related illnesses and smoking prevention. If Proposition 56 passes, it would enable insurance companies to profit off of $1.4 billion in taxes.
  2. The tax revenue that would be generated by Proposition 56 should address other issues than the tobacco tax. There are more pressing matters the state of California needs to address and solve.
  3. Proposition 56 will not provide funds for education programs, and the $600 million promised to schools every year will not be received.

  If California passes this legalization measure, it would be a victory for the healthcare and research industry. Although there are three other states who also have similar initiatives as Proposition 56, the impact it would make on schools, healthcare programs, and law enforcement would be great nevertheless.  

A poll conducted in the state during October 2016 indicate that public support for the proposition hovers around 55 percent. This proposition will likely pass, given that the opposition is around 43 percent. Regardless of whether you support or oppose Proposition 56, keep in mind that Proposition 56 will affect Californians nevertheless.