On Tuesday, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen granted permission to start gathering signatures on an initiative seeking to increase taxes on tobacco products. The proposed initiative called the “California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014,” proposes to increase taxes on cigarettes by $1 per pack, and increase taxes on other tobacco products in order to fund financial aid for California residents enrolled in public universities.
The proposed initiative must receive 504,760 valid signatures from registered voters and must be submitted by July 22, 2013 in order to be placed on the November 2014 ballot. According to an estimate prepared by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Director of Finance Ana Matosantos, the proposed initiative is expected to generate annual revenue of $800 million by increasing the tax on cigarettes by one dollar and $45 million by increasing the tax on all other tobacco products.
Of the estimated revenue, the initiative proposes to allocate $730 million to be spent on financial aid for resident students of the University of California and California State University campuses, $70 million to recuperate losses incurred from existing tobacco programs, and the remainder to be sued for other existing tobacco programs.
Previous initiatives were struck down by California voters such as Proposition 29 which proposed to increase taxes on tobacco products in order to fund cancer research, and Proposition 86 which proposed to increase taxes on tobacco products in order to finance hospital care for children and anti-smoking campaigns.
Some argue that the proposed initiative should not be upheld because it proposes actions that were already granted by Proposition 30, which was approved by voters in the last election. Student voters however approve the proposed initiative and anxiously awaits the result of the signature gathering efforts to have this proposition be placed on the November 2014 ballot.