CDA urges members to sign tobacco tax petition

CDA and the Save Lives California coalition are encouraging dentists across the state to take action by signing a petition to make sure the ballot measure to increase the state's tax on tobacco products by $2 per pack qualifies for the November ballot.

CDA has delivered petition forms to all local components to help collect signatures. Every signature that CDA members can collect saves vital campaign resources that the coalition will need to counter the tobacco industry.   

Each petition form has eight signature lines on it. Three critical points include:

1) All signatures must be from California registered voters.
2) All signatures on an individual form must be from residents of the same county, based on the address they are registered under. For example, anyone collecting signatures from people from multiple counties will want to have separate forms with the appropriate county name filled in.
3) The person collecting signatures must fill out the "circulator" information at the bottom of the form.

Dentists can also take forms to collect signatures from other colleagues, family, friends, etc. The coalition will have until April 26 to collect the required amount of signatures to qualify the "California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Act of 2016" for the November ballot. The Save Lives California coalition is working to collect as many signatures as possible through volunteer efforts, and the California Medical Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Service Employees International Union, American Heart Association and American Lung Association are all joining CDA in the signature-gathering effort.

The ballot measure will raise California's tobacco tax, which has not been increased since 1998, by $2 per pack (from 87 cents, which has fallen to 35th in the nation, to $2.87) with an equivalent tax on other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in California and raising the tax will help prevent and reduce tobacco use. Ninety percent of smokers start as teens and for every 10 percent increase in the cost of a pack of cigarettes, teen smoking drops by up to 7 percent. The measure will also generate revenue for critical state healthcare programs, prevention and research. Every year, smoking costs California taxpayers billions of dollars, including $3.5 billion that Medi-Cal spends annually to treat smoking-related diseases. In addition to funding for the Medi-Cal/Denti-Cal programs, the measure includes funding for the state's oral health program overseen by the new state dental director, an unprecedented dedicated funding source for this program.

Dentists should contact their component executive director to sign the petition or legislative chair for more information on how you can help with this process. Dentists can also contact CDA Public Affairs Manager Todd Roberson with any questions at todd.roberson@cda.org or 916.554.4982.

For more information on the Save Lives California coalition, visit savelivesca.com.

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CDA and the Save Lives California coalition have launched the signature-gathering phase of a ballot measure campaign to increase the state's tax on tobacco products by $2 per pack. The coalition will have until April 26 to collect the required amount of signatures to qualify the "California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Act of 2016" for the November ballot and the campaign has a comprehensive program to ensure enough signatures are collected. CDA will be reaching out to components and grassroots leaders to provide members with an opportunity to sign the petitions to help qualify the measure.

Recent Field Poll results released in November showed strong support for taxing and regulating electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), a key component of the 2016 ballot measure submitted by the Save Lives California coalition, of which CDA is a member, that will prevent smoking. Almost three in four California voters (74 percent) favor taxing e-cigarettes and vaping products. A sizeable majority of Californians correctly views e-cigarettes as a danger to public health and 71 percent believe that e-cigarettes contribute to teens becoming addicted to tobacco.

The Save Lives California coalition, which CDA is part of, has filed its final version of a ballot measure for the November 2016 election to raise the state’s tobacco tax by $2 per pack. The coalition had committed to pursuing a ballot measure if the Legislature was unable to pass legislation this summer, and with no legislative action at the end of this year’s session, the coalition is moving ahead with a ballot measure campaign.