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Bid to Raise Cigarette Tax to Treat Prostate Cancer Defeated

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A bill increasing the state cigarette tax by two cents a pack to raise $37 million annually for prostrate cancer research and treatment was rejected Monday by the Assembly.

The bill was defeated on a 49-26 vote, five short of the two-thirds majority of 54 votes needed for passage. Its sponsor, Assemblyman Stan Statham (R-Oak Run), said he will seek reconsideration at a later date. There was no debate.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Aug. 25, 1994 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday August 25, 1994 Home Edition Part A Page 3 Column 5 Metro Desk 2 inches; 57 words Type of Material: Correction
Prostate research funding--In an article in Tuesday’s editions about the Assembly’s rejection of a cigarette tax hike to pay for prostate cancer research, The Times incorrectly reported that the federal government will spend $51 million on such research this year in California. That amount will be spent nationwide; California’s share is about $3 million, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The Legislature last year approved, and Gov. Pete Wilson signed into law, a bill increasing the cigarette tax by two cents a package to raise funds for breast cancer research and treatment.

But 1994 is an election year and lower house Republican lawmakers appeared reluctant to approve a tax increase. Forty-five Democrats and five Republicans voted for the bill. All votes against it were lodged by Republicans.

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Under Statham’s bill, the state cigarette tax would have climbed to 39 cents a pack. A pack of cigarettes sells for about $2.00.

Half of the tax hike would have gone for prostate cancer research and half for treatment. This year, the state is to receive $51 million from the federal government for prostate cancer research.

In his opening remarks, Statham told his colleagues: “Gentlemen, you have a chance to save your own life. Women live in fear of breast cancer. Men should live in fear of prostate cancer.”

He added that there is growing medical evidence showing a possible link between smoking and prostate cancer.

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Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in California, and is the second-highest killer of men in the state behind lung cancer, Statham said.

The disease increased 58.9% in California during the three-year period between 1988-1991, according to the American Cancer Society. In 1991, it exceeded breast cancer for the first time as the most frequent type of cancer in California.


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