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Letters: Ballot box and smoking

May 16, 2012

Re: "Cigarette tax is a lifesaver," Column, May 14

I am not a smoker nor do I have any interest in the tobacco companies. Though I may agree in principle with George Skelton that cigarette companies are deceiving voters about Proposition 29, which would raise cigarette taxes $1 a pack to finance cancer research, I have a problem with the overall premise of the initiative.

People have the idea that just throwing more cash at a problem is the best way to solve it. Here, the idea is that we improve cancer research by imposing $800 million in new taxes on smokers.

Skelton sounds like he's more interested in punishing the tobacco companies than furthering cancer research. Considering the aftermath of Proposition 71 — the 2004 California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act, which added $3 billion to the state's bond debt with few results — one has to wonder what benefits this new measure would have for cancer research.

Mel Watson
Mission Hills

Skelton writes about the deceptive tactics of the cigarette makers to defeat Proposition 29. The Times' editorial board sides with the cigarette industry in urging a "no" vote.

Although I often disagree with Skelton, he's right that the industry wants to improve its bottom line, not the health of Californians. Skelton's column persuaded me to support Proposition 29.

Jo'Ann De Quattro
Los Angeles

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