LOS ANGELES COUNTY : County Backs Plan to Raise Cigarette Taxes 17 Cents

Los Angeles County, seeking to close a $299-million budget gap, is supporting a proposal to increase cigarette taxes by 17 cents per pack statewide while preempting all local smoking bans.

The idea surfaced last week. Sen. Charles M. Calderon (D-Whittier) is pushing an additional cigarette tax to raise $300 million and help bail out counties, particularly Los Angeles County. On Tuesday, Board of Supervisors members said they are among the backers of the plan, with three of the five supervisors supporting the idea, as does Chief Administrative Officer Harry Hufford.

"The board has given me the authority" to lobby for the proposal, Hufford said. Supervisors Mike Antonovich, Deane Dana and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke gave him the go-ahead, but Gloria Molina and Ed Edelman opposed the move.

The county's position pits it against the city of Los Angeles, because the proposal would invalidate the city's new anti-smoking ordinance, which was signed by ex-Mayor Tom Bradley in one of his final official acts. In the new state budget, Los Angeles County will lose $299 million in property tax revenue, with the money being shifted to public schools.

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