CDA urges yes vote on Proposition 56

In the days leading up to the Nov. 8 General Election, the Yes on 56 campaign to save lives and increase access to health care by increasing the state's tobacco tax continues to win endorsements, debunk Big Tobacco's dishonest advertising and encourage supporters to continue their grassroots efforts to ensure Proposition 56 passes at the polls.

Since CDA Update last reported, Proposition 56, which CDA is co-sponsoring, has continued to receive an overwhelming number of endorsements from business, education and public safety groups, elected officials and civic organizations. These include the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles Unified School District, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, San Diego Unified School District, Peace Officers Research Association of California, California State Controller Betty Yee and the California State Association of Counties. They join a large, diverse coalition that also includes the California Medical Association, California Hospital Association, American Heart and Lung Associations, California State PTA and the California School Boards Association.

"Prop. 56 is an important opportunity to improve the health of our employees, the well-being of their families, and the strength of California's workforce," stated Gary Toebben, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. "The chamber is proud to support this initiative."

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school district in the U.S., passed a resolution in support of Proposition 56, urging Californians to "vote yes on 56 to take a stand to save California lives, help smokers quit and educate youth in order to prevent them from becoming smokers." LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer stated, "90 percent of smokers start as teens. Prop. 56 is proven to decrease smoking rates and save our future generation."

Mike Durant, president of the Peace Officers Research Association, the largest law enforcement organization in the state, said "We support Prop. 56 because it tackles the deadly and costly menace that tobacco is, particularly to our youth. We are proud to join hundreds of other endorsers to stand up to tobacco companies that are preying on children to better their bottom lines."

To date, Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds have raised more than $55 million to defeat Proposition 56 — with $18 million of that spent in just one week in September. Jim Knox, vice president of government relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network called it "more blood money" at a cost of "hundreds of thousands of lives at a cost of billions of dollars to taxpayers."

The campaign also continues to receive support from media outlets, including editorial endorsements from The Sacramento Bee, The Los Angeles Times, The Fresno Bee and The Bakersfield Californian, who joined the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Monterey Herald and Santa Cruz Sentinel in issuing strong statements about the deceitful tactics employed by Big Tobacco to fight Proposition 56.

The San Jose Mercury News recently wrote, "Nobody blows smoke in the face of voters better than the tobacco industry … They're at it again with a supremely sleazy advertising campaign designed to kill Proposition 56 … The ads are insidious."

PoliGraph, The Sacramento Bee's political fact-checker, said of Big Tobacco's second campaign video, "Similar to an earlier ad funded by the tobacco companies, the new commercial contains inaccurate claims about school funding and omits information to mislead voters. Nothing in the measure reduces school funding from current levels." 

Addressing the tobacco industry's continued pattern of deception in its advertising, the Yes on 56 campaign filed complaints in September with the Fair Political Practices Commission, claiming Big Tobacco has committed multiple violations of California campaign finance law. One complaint asks the FPPC to require tobacco companies to stop using unclear and illegal disclaimers and a second charges that tobacco companies have failed to disclose how they are spending money to defeat Proposition 56.

Meanwhile, the Yes on 56 campaign launched two new ads, "Butterfly" and "Trust," which illustrate the important role the initiative plays in keeping California's children from smoking.

Proposition 56: Good for kids, education, health

If passed, Proposition 56 will raise the state's tax on tobacco products (now among the lowest in the nation) by $2 — from 87 cents per pack of cigarettes to $2.87 per pack. An equivalent increase will apply to all products containing nicotine derived from tobacco (but not tobacco cessation devices), which would apply the tax to electronic cigarettes for the first time. E-cigarette use by teens is increasing rapidly and teens who smoke e-cigarettes are twice as likely to smoke traditional cigarettes. Higher tobacco taxes have been proven to reduce tobacco use, especially among teens.

Proposition 56 will generate revenue for critical state health care programs such as Medi-Cal and Denti-Cal, which are significantly underfunded despite the fact that one-third of Californians now rely on these programs for health coverage.

In addition to funding for health care programs, Proposition 56 will generate revenue for cessation and research programs, and allocate $30 million for the state's oral health program overseen by the new state dental director, an unprecedented dedicated funding source.

Moreover, the Legislative Analyst's Office estimates that Proposition 56 would add approximately $20 million in new funding for comprehensive school-based anti-tobacco prevention and intervention efforts.

A recent Field Poll found that a narrow majority of voters support the initiative, and with Big Tobacco continuing to spend millions of dollars spreading deceitful information, action and outreach remain critical. The campaign encourages Proposition 56 advocates to continue their grassroots efforts. Dentists and dental students should contact their local component dental societies, CDA student representatives and specialty groups for materials, including lab coat cards, buttons and stickers. Supporters can also download free materials, such as posters, on CDA's Proposition 56 webpage. CDA asks that supporters share the materials with colleagues, patients and friends and explain how this measure will save lives and improve California's health care system.

Vote-by-mail request deadline is Nov. 1

Current registered voters who wish to vote by mail must submit their vote-by-mail requests no later than Nov. 1 and vote-by-mail ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 8 — Election Day.

For more information about Proposition 56, visit yeson56.org.

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