SAN DIEGO -- California's primary elections are around the corner and one of the propositions has been making national headlines.
Proposition 29 would put a $1 tax on every pack of cigarettes sold in California. If passed, it is expected to raise more than $700 million through the tax on cigarettes.
Health advocates support the measure because they say the money will go towards researching tobacco related diseases, education programs, law enforcement and administrative costs.
"Just by virtue of raising the cost of cigarettes, it's going to discourage kids from smoking and it’s going to motivate people who smoke now to quit," Senior Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association California Debra Kelley said.
"The only people who will pay the tax are people who will buy tobacco products," Kelley added. "Many of them will smoke less and if they don't they will benefit from the research that will come out of it."
Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds have already given $15 million to fight Prop. 29.
The California Republican Party and dozens of major retailers, convenience store chains and taxpayer associations have also joined the fight against it.
They say the money raised from the tax will add to more bureaucracy and there's no guarantee the money will stay in the state.
"We should not be talking about taxing for a new cause and particularly for a cause that’s not California specific," Richard Rider San Diego Tax Fighters Chairman said.
"We're talking about taking on a national issue that is funded by and should be funded by the federal government, which is cancer," Rider said. "It's a noble cause, but it's not something we should be funding for the other 49 states."
California is a state to watch when it comes to ballot initiatives, if voters decide to impose the tax on each pack of cigarettes, other states may follow.
Supporters estimate tobacco companies may spend more than $60 million before the election to try and block it.
Voters head to the polls on June 5.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times