California college students who smoke may be conflicted if asked to sign the petition for one proposed initiative.
The measure, which has been cleared by the state for signature gathering, would increase funding for student financial aid but do so by adding a dollar excise tax to a pack of cigarettes.
The state’s Legislative Analysts Office has issued a report estimating the tax would raise $800 million the first year, almost all of it ($730 million) available for aiding students at the University of California and California State University systems.
The rest would backfill money lost in other tobacco programs.
However, the higher-education advocates behind the measure are expected to come under pressure to drop their proposal in the next few weeks from powerful unions and legislators wanting to use a cigarette tax to help pay for an expansion of healthcare in California, sources say.