OK, can we agree on one thing? Smoking is bad for you. In fact, it will kill you.
And so a ballot measure that discourages smoking would be a good thing, right? And if it also raised hundreds of millions of dollars for research that might cure cancer, that would be good, too, right?
Not if you believe the blather being promulgated by the tobacco industry.
The misleading, disingenuous, lying media blitz paid for by Big Tobacco’s $40 million campaign chest asserts or suggests:
— The money won’t go to cancer treatment. That wasn’t what this measure was designed to do – the funds would go toward cancer research, which is where cancer treatments are found. We don’t have a cure for cancer yet – where do opponents think that will come from?
— Somehow, all the research money will go out of state. Since California is home to 10 research facilities recognized by the National Cancer Institute as some of the best in the world, and the program will be run largely by California physicians and educators, where do they think the research funds will go – Tennessee?
— The medical community is against it – according to Dr. La Donna Porter, who shows up in television commercials in a white coat. Well, the powerful California Medical Association, along with most other medical groups, is in favor of it. And it turns out Porter is a known rent-a-doctor who shills for all kinds of spurious causes, such as the chemical industry’s defense of perchlorate, a toxic substance that is especially harmful to children. (It’s not clear whether she’s being paid for her efforts.)
— The money raised won’t “support other programs.” This one is mostly true, but why should it? The idea here is to try to cure cancer.
And it will get worse. A new TV ad features an actor portraying a scientist in a lab coat. It says the proposition will “divert money from our schools.” How? It doesn’t divert money from anybody – except smokers.
This page already has endorsed Proposition 29, which would raise the tax on a pack of smokes by $1 to pay for cancer research. And studies have shown that increasing the cost of cigarettes sharply reduces the consumption of this deadly product, which would be a welcome side-effect. What’s not to like?
But the misinformation that continues to spew from the measure’s opponents can’t go unchallenged. Misleading voters is a common trait of political advertising by giant corporations that have $40 million to spend.
This is not an income tax. It is not a general sales tax. It’s a tax that would save lives.
Don’t want to pay a tax on cigarettes? Don’t buy cigarettes.
And don’t believe all the claims by an industry selling a product that, when used correctly, will kill you.