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California voters favor tobacco tax, less sure on term limits

Prop. 29, which would add a $1 tax to every pack of cigarettes to help fund cancer research, is backed by 62% of state voters. Just 49% support Prop. 28, which would extend the time state lawmakers could serve in the Assembly or Senate.

May 30, 2012|By Anthony York, Los Angeles Times
  • A proposed $1-a-pack tax increase on cigarettes is popular among California voters, a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll shows.
A proposed $1-a-pack tax increase on cigarettes is popular among California… (Los Angeles Times )

SACRAMENTO — A proposed $1-a-pack tax increase on cigarettes is popular among California voters, but they are split over whether to change the state's 22-year-old term limits law, a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll shows. The two measures will appear on Tuesday's statewide ballot.

The tobacco tax, Proposition 29, is backed by 62% of state voters, while just 33% say they oppose it. If passed, the measure would raise levies on other tobacco products in addition to the $1 hike on cigarettes.

The proceeds — about $850 million a year, according to the state legislative analyst's office — would pay for more cancer research and help law enforcement fight illegal cigarette sales.

Tobacco companies have run a $40-million opposition campaign, criticizing the measure for creating a new bureaucracy and doing nothing to help close an estimated $15.7-billion budget deficit. Proponents, including the American Heart Assn. and the American Lung Assn., have countered with arguments by former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong, who runs an anti-cancer foundation in Texas.

Voters are less sure whether they want to change term limits. Proposition 28 would allow state lawmakers to serve 12 years in either legislative house instead of the current limits of three two-year terms in the Assembly and two four-year terms in the Senate.

Just 49% of voters said they'd support the change; 33% would not. Independents and Democrats back it by 53% and 51%, respectively. A plurality of Republicans also do, with 46% in favor and 36% opposed.

Proponents include the California Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Opponents include the group U.S. Term Limits and taxpayer organizations.

The USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times poll canvassed 1,002 registered voters from May 17 through May 21. The survey was conducted jointly by the Democratic polling company Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and the Republican firm American Viewpoint. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.

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