Big Tobacco Money Wins California Referendum

While most media attention in last week’s primary focused on the Wisconsin recall election, another important outcome came in California.  Voters rejected a $1 a pack increase on cigarette taxes by a margin of 50.8% to 49.2%, a difference of about 60,000 votes out of the almost 4 million votes cast. A statewide poll in March 2012 suggested the measure would pass with two-thirds approval but a $47 million ad campaign by the tobacco industry helped to turn the tide.  According to an Associated Press report, the ads scarcely mentioned the word “tobacco” — showing that cigarette makers are shifting away from arguing about their product and looking for other ways to attack tax initiatives.