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California voters to get chance to decide if cigarette taxes will go up by $2 a pack

 (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
(Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

A coalition of health groups including the California Medical Assn. has collected more than enough signatures to qualify an initiative for the Nov. 8 ballot that would raise the tobacco tax in California by $2 a pack, the group said Friday.

The Save Lives California Coalition plans to begin turning the signatures in to county elections officials on Monday.

California has one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the country, 87 cents per pack, far behind New York, where the tax is $4.35 a pack. California’s tobacco tax has not been increased since 1998.

The coalition, which also includes the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Assn., the American Lung Assn. and the Service Employees International Union, has to submit the signatures of 585,407 registered voters to qualify the measure for the ballot.

A spokesman for the coalition said it has collected nearly 1 million signatures.

The news comes just after Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law measures raising the smoking age to 21 and regulating e-cigarettes .

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