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LOS ANGELES -- The fight to raise the California state cigarette excise tax by $1 per pack is over with supporters of Proposition 29 admitting defeat on Friday, June 22 -- 17 days after residents headed to the polls to cast their votes.
On election night, June 5, Proposition 29 looked like it was going to lose, trailing by approximately 64,000 votes, as CSNews Online previously reported. Over the next two-plus weeks the vote tally fluctuated with proponents of the measure coming as close as 13,000 votes at one point. However, on Friday the ballot measure was losing by more than 29,000 votes with only 100,000 uncounted ballots left -- not enough to close the gap, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
Proposition 29, which would have also sought an equivalent tax increase on other tobacco products, brought out strong opposition. No less than 18 newspapers published editorials against the measure and more than 3,200 groups and individuals banded together to form the No on 29 committee to fight against it.
According to the news report, the No on 29 committee declined to declare victory until the California secretary of state's office announced the officials vote count. That could come in early July, as CSNews Online reported last week.
"We are obviously encouraged by the current margin," said campaign spokeswoman Beth Miller. "We have said from the very beginning that as voters took a closer look at Proposition 29, they would see the glaring flaws in the measure."
Proposition 29 would have raised between $700 and $800 million in revenue for a state that is battling a massive budget deficit. However, objections were raised over where the money was slated to go. Legislators earmarked some of the money for cancer research at a time when the state is struggling to, among other things, keep teachers in the classrooms and state parks open.
One key force behind Proposition 29, former state Sen. Don Perata used unspent campaign funds to help launch the ballot measure is reportedly lobbying the state legislators to approve a $1-per-pack cigarette tax that would go toward the general fund and help bail out the state, the newspaper said.