Reasoning that the best way to break the smoking habit is to stop it before it begins, sponsors of the successful tobacco tax initiative Proposition 99 said they want to focus their anti-smoking education campaign on school-age children.
“We want to teach every child about the hazards of smoking,” said Dr. W. James Nethery, chairman of Coalition for a Healthy California. He added that “90% of all smokers start by the age of 19, and 60% begin by the age of 14.”
Key members of the coalition are the American Lung Assn., the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Assn., the Planning and Conservation League and the California Assn. of Hospitals and Health Systems.
Proposition 99 imposed a 15-cent-a-pack tax increase on cigarettes and placed comparable tax increases on cigars and other tobacco products. The new taxes will raise about $650 million a year, which will go into anti-smoking education campaigns, health care, cancer research and enhancement of natural resources.
Sponsors of Proposition 99 said they want legislation that will earmark 70% of the money for programs aimed at school-age children.
School districts will be eligible to apply for the Proposition 99 money, but so will community clinics, volunteer health agencies, local health departments, and hospitals and community clinics.