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Proposition 28 Foes Hold Protest Rally

March 01, 2000|TONY LYSTRA

About 50 people gathered at the Ventura County Government Center on Tuesday to encourage voters to oppose Proposition 28--which would repeal the 50-cent-per-pack cigarette tax--on the March 7 ballot.

Proposition 28 would overturn Proposition 10, which was approved in 1998.

Ventura County's Children and Families Commission receives $11 million annually in Proposition 10 funds to spend on anti-smoking programs targeted at children and families.

Opponents fear that passage of Proposition 28 would torpedo those education programs and other services. Tobacco store owners, meanwhile, have argued that price increases spawned by Proposition 10 caused business to plummet.

"Cheap cigarettes is a cheap shot [at these programs]," Supervisor Kathy Long said in an interview after the rally. She heads the Proposition 10 commission that allocates the funds in the county.

Long spoke at the rally about Proposition 10 programs that provide parenting classes and other services to children. The programs, she said, are designed to discourage pregnant mothers and young people from smoking.

Ventura County Dist. Atty. Michael Bradbury and representatives of children's advocate groups and cancer associations also attended the event.

"Our anti-crime arsenal contains no weapon more powerful than investing in kids," Bradbury said. "By this, I mean devoting the funds necessary to provide good parenting programs, quality child care, after-school activities and other programs designed to prevent conduct that can crush a child's spirit."

Long said she was disappointed by the turnout at the gathering, but encouraged by the number of people who planned to send prepared statements to friends, reminding them to vote against Proposition 28.

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