Three San Fernando Valley elected officials Wednesday endorsed a proposed initiative to raise the cigarette tax by 25 cents a pack to pay for cancer research and anti-smoking programs.
State Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys), Los Angeles County Supervisor Ed Edelman and Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude announced at a City Hall news conference that they will chair the county campaign to qualify the initiative for the November, 1988, ballot. They need to gather 595,485 voters' signatures.
"Why shouldn't the people who smoke the cigarettes pay for the terrible consequences . . . of the taxpayers having to subsidize the people who are dying of emphysema?" asked Braude, a former two-pack-a-day smoker. Braude said he will ask the City Council on Friday to support the initiative.
Efforts to raise California's cigarette tax, which has remained at 10 cents a pack since 1967, have been stymied in the Legislature by heavy lobbying from the tobacco industry, a major contributor to the political campaigns of state legislators. The industry also spent millions of dollars to defeat initiatives in California that would regulate smoking.