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Most Calif. voters unaware tobacco tax low

  |   June 5, 2012 at 8:09 PM
LOS ANGELES, June 5 (UPI) -- Most people in California don't know the state's cigarette tax of 87 cents a pack is far below the national average of $1.46, an anti-smoking advocate said.

Californians were voting Tuesday on Proposition 29, a ballot measure providing for a $1 tobacco tax increase.

Patrick Reynolds, a grandson of tobacco company founder R.J. Reynolds and the executive director TobaccoFree.org, said voters who know cigarettes are cheaper in California are more likely to vote yes for the proposition.

More than 30 states have higher tobacco taxes than California's -- including New York at $4.35 a pack; Connecticut at $3.40 a pack; Rhode Island at $3.46 and Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Maryland and Michigan, all at $2 a pack. For more than a decade, the California Legislature did not increase the tobacco tax, while 47 other states did.

The tobacco industry is spending more than $40 million on ads to stop the tobacco tax increase, Reynolds said. If the proposition is passed, California's tobacco tax will move from 33rd place to 16th among the states, Reynolds said.

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