Graphic by Irin Son

According to a UC San Francisco (UCSF) study, a new statewide ballot initiative which aims to increase the cigarette tax may lead to a creation of 12,000 jobs and $1.9 billion in new economic growth for California. The research on the bill, called the California Cancer Research Act (CCRA), was conducted by UC San Francisco (UCSF) Professor Stanton Glantz.

If the initiative is approved in the June ballot, then state cigarette taxes would increase by $1 per pack. “The primary impact to the California economy, besides the effect on health care, is that people will smoke less and send less money out of state,’’ stated Glant in a UCSF press release. The initiative would also subsidize anti-smoking education programs, medical research and tobacco law enforcement.

Under the legislation, 60 percent of funds generated by the new tax would go to cancer research and to address other tobacco-related diseases, 20 percent toward tobacco cessation and prevention programs and 15 percent toward facilities and equipment for health services and research. The remainder would go to assist law enforcement in targeting cigarette smuggling and tobacco tax evasion, according to the UCSF press release. “I am usually wary of taxes by the state as figures tend to be overblown.  However, I would like to see a reduction in smoking rates especially among the younger generation,” said fourth year UC Riverside student Eugene Kim.

The state’s independent Legislative Analysts’ Office calculated that the new tax could save more than 100,000 people from smoking-related deaths if the CCRA is approved. The UC Board of Regents had given support to the initiative back in September 2011 and in doing so, UC campuses will be able to analyze the impact of the measure and utilize educational resources in order to promote the initiative.

“Most substances that in fact harm us are not well regulated by the laws; they come into Congress, nobody does any toxicity testing, and then they stay there until problems show up so we could have many years of children who suffer greater or lesser adverse effects because of the way our legal system works,” said Carl Cranor, distinguished UC Riverside professor of philosophy and faculty member of the Environmental Toxicology Graduate Program. “Smoking is just a wide-spread toxin, there’s no other way to put it and it’s just really hard on the human body…thus, it’s going to start and trigger those same adverse effects in children. So the earlier you start getting those doses of cigarette smoke, if your parents smoke, the worse off you’re going to be.”