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'Smokescreen:' Proposition 99

September 28, 1988

Although I am not a smoker, I have some concerns about Proposition 99.

While some feel Proposition 99's radio and TV ads are a bit dramatic, I frankly believe that the potential for increased crime as a result of Proposition 99 exists. It's a matter of simple economics. By increasing California's cigarette tax by 25 cents per pack, Proposition 99 will create significant price disparities between California and other states. Are we naive enough to think that gangs and other criminals won't try to make a quick buck by smuggling cigarettes across state lines?

My other concern is that the majority of new tax revenues is going to pay doctors and hospitals for providing charity care. While the objective of health care for the needy is a worthy social goal, it strikes me as unfair to force one group of Californians, smokers, to pay for this broad public responsibility. Shouldn't the financing of charity care be borne by all taxpayers?

I suppose that smokers represent revenue cows that special interest groups and politicians can't help milking. I wonder, though, which group will be next?

JANE E. PERKINS

Los Angeles

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