California voters to consider anti-smoking initiative in November

A California ballot initiative, which would not only increase taxes on tobacco products but also add previously untaxed e-cigarettes to the list, is scheduled to be placed before state voters for consideration in November.

A potential approval for Proposition 56 in the nation’s most populous state could begin a trend amid growing debate over how the multibillion-dollar e-cigarette or vaping industry affects public health.

While the tobacco industry is opposing the ballot initiative, anti-smoking advocates say the vapor liquids and e-cigarettes labeled friendly cartoon characters like Tinkerbell are pushing a new generation into the group of nicotine.

Dr. Ted Mazer, of the California Medical Association (CMA), said, “We’re facing a particularly alarming new public threat with the rising popularity of electronic cigarettes, especially among our youth.”

The new initiative would add $2 to the existing 87 cents-per-pack state tax on cigarettes in the state. In 2002 and 2012, state voters defeated similar measures.

If California voters approve the Proposition 56, the Golden State would become only the fifth state in the nation to tax e-cigarettes. North Carolina, Kansas, Louisiana and Minnesota have already approved similar initiatives.