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America's two biggest tobacco companies are spending big bucks to beat Proposition 29, the "Tobacco Tax for Cancer Research Act" on June's ballot, and a sizable chunk of the wealth is currently being spread to San Diego television stations.

Meanwhile, some high-profile locals with longstanding ties to San Diego's biotech establishment, which stands to benefit financially from the measure, are lending their support to the proposition.

If approved by voters, Prop. 29 will add a dollar per pack to the state's cigarette tax, boosting total per pack taxes to $1.87.

The California Legislative Analyst says that would bring the state $735 million a year in new tax revenues, mandated for smoking reduction, cancer research, and tobacco sales police.

Voters narrowly rejected 2006's Proposition 86, which would have levied an extra $2.60 on a pack of cigarettes, according to BallotPedia.Org, so the the tobacco industry is girding its loins for an all-out fight to stop the latest proposal.

According to a disclosure report posted online by the state Secretary of State's office, the industry's campaign fund, "No on 29, Californians Against Out-of-Control Taxes and Spending," raised $12,088,658 from the beginning of this year through March 17.

Contributions have included $4,005,392 from the American Snuff Company of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and other R.J. Reynolds subsidiaries.

Phillip Morris and related companies kicked in $8,083,266.

A lot of that cash is expected to go for television spots, and media buyers for the tobacco giants are already placing sizable bets in the state's major TV markets of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

According to the campaign's filing, KFMB, Channel 8, has so far been paid $214,897; KGTV, Channel 10, has recieved $196,031; KNSD, Channel 39, has gotten $143,726; and KWSB, Channel 69, has recieved $62,156.

KUSI, Channel 51, has gotten just $60,970, but the campaign is only beginning and the tobacco firms are expected to spend much more.

On the other side of the issue is a fund called "Californians for a Cure," whose backers include the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, and "cancer research doctors," according to its filing.

It raised $2,090,724 from the first of the year through March 17.

Besides the heart and lung associations, major contributors have included the Lance Armstrong Foundation, with $150,000, the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, which gave $25,000, and the University of California San Francisco Foundation, with $50,000.

Three wealthy Point Loma and La Jolla locals have also kicked in to support the tax hike: real estate mogul Malin Burnham, whose Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute bears his name--and who is a big supporter of San Diego's biotech business lobby, a likely beneficiary of increased tax funding--gave $5000.

Peggy and Peter Preuss, a venture capitalist, cancer research philanthropist, and former University of California regent, contributed a total of $5046.46

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timgibbs April 6, 2012 @ 2:14 p.m.

Don't buy the lies from the tobacco companies. Prop 29 is about saving lives, keeping kids from smoking and funding research for a cure. Big Tobacco will do anything, say anything and spend anything to keep putting their profits over people's lives. They spend billions every year to market to get new people (many of them children) addicted to tobacco. This is our chance to fight back. Vote yes on 29.


JenJen007 April 6, 2012 @ 2:33 p.m.

Vote Yes on Prop 29 What will Proposition 29 do? Save Lives, Prevent Kids from Smoking and Fund Research This new $1 tobacco tax – paid only by those who purchase tobacco products – will save 104,000 lives; stop 228,000 kids from smoking; and generate approximately $735 million every year to support life-saving research and tobacco prevention programs. Prop 29 will also provide vital funding to make advances in prevention, detection and treatment of cancer, heart disease and other smoking-related illnesses. Research – Fighting cancer, lung and heart disease 60% will fund cancer and other smoking-related research (approximately $441 million annually) 20% will fund tobacco use prevention and smoking cessation (approximately $147 million annually) 15% will pay for facilities and equipment to support research (approximately $110 million annually) 3% will help enforce anti-tobacco laws and stop tobacco smuggling (approximately $22 million annually) 2% is the maximum amount used for administering the program (approximately $15 million annually)


colleenroot April 6, 2012 @ 2:38 p.m.

Prop 29 is simple - keep kids from smoking, save lives, and fund cancer research. Fight Big Tobacco by voting YES on Prop 29 in June.


kymhoffman April 6, 2012 @ 2:47 p.m.

I wish that Big Tobacco would put that $23.5 million into cancer research instead of TV ads that distort the truth!!! Vote YES on Prop 29!!!


emonte75 April 6, 2012 @ 2:50 p.m.

Philip Morris USA & R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. are scared witless of losing huge profits if Prop 29 passes; wouldn't it be nice if the millions they're spending to defeat Prop 29 would be given to our schools? Instead they'd rather protect their profits while endangering the health of our children, whom they're targeting w/ their ads. Surgeon General's recent report says it best: "Tobacco use remains a “pediatric epidemic,” with more than 3.6 million middle and high school students still smoking, and the tobacco industry spreads this epidemic by spending more than $10 billion a year – $1 million dollars every hour – on marketing that entices kids." Vote YES on 29!


cray April 6, 2012 @ 2:51 p.m.

It's pretty clear what the choice here is. The article says that the tobacco companies have funded the opposition to this proposition. Doesn't that say enough? On June 5, my vote will go with the Lung Association, Heart Association and the cancer doctors.


hhdramey April 6, 2012 @ 2:51 p.m.

Preventing kids from smoking and funding cancer research was reason enough for Prop. 29 to get my YES vote in June... now that I know the tobacco industry has spent more than $20 million to defeat the proposition I will be doing everything in my power to get all of my family and friends to vote YES. I can think of a thousand better things $20 million could have been spent on and unfortunately that is equal to pocket change for the industry. YES on 29.


AirDefender April 6, 2012 @ 3:16 p.m.

Every California household is paying $612 a year of their taxes to pay for the consequences of allowing Big Tobacco to push their deadly products. Big Tobacco will spend whatever it takes to keep and maintain the lucrative California market. They take the smokers' money and our families and communities pay the price. Let's send a clear and unequivocal message to Big Tobacco, "our lungs and our children's lungs are NOT FOR SALE!" We're voting YES on Prop. 29 on June 5th.



tlogan23 April 6, 2012 @ 3:17 p.m.

I started smoking when I was 14. Thankfully I was able to beat the addicition, it took 3 long years. I talked about Yes on 29 to about 25 men of a cancer support group. I ask how many of them smoked or had quit smoking. 10 (including myself) raised our hands. I then ask the question how many had start smoking after the age of 18, 2 raised their hands. Now you know why Big Tobacco will do anything, say anything, because BT knows that it needs to addict enough youths to replace the ones who are dying from lung cancer or lung related disieses, but cause if they really have to wait for a person to reach the age of 18 or older their business will ironically die a slow death. Remember this BT has lied to the public and in our court of law about the addicitve nature of tobacco under oath for over 6 decades. Are you now suddenly going to believe BT, because they bought lock stock and barrow the "Californians Against Out-Of-Control Taxes and Spending" group who are no more than BT puppets being paided to say what BT wants them to say. When you get a call/visit/speaker from Yes on 29, you will be talking to a volunteer like me, a caregiver who spent 7 years watching my wife slowly and painfully die of pancreatic cancer at the age of 28. So I say "Yes on 29 will save lives, will keep our kids away from tobacco and just maybe find a cure, even for an executive of BT with cancer". Californians you have a choice on June 5th or when you get your mail in ballots. Make it YES on 29 for yourself, for you love ones, the stranger on the street corner, for our future generation. That on that day Californians drew a line in the sand and stood up to cancer and not bow to the fearmongering by BT.


lyndabarbour April 6, 2012 @ 4:36 p.m.

A Yes on 29 on June 5 vote will that will bring much needed resources to support cancer research in San Diego and California? I'm in! Prop 29 will ensure that GREAT research ideas and proposals get funded because it will raise over $500 million a year for research, which doubles the amount of cancer research in California. This article makes it look like the SD research and biotech insitutes are guaranteed this funding when Prop 29 passes- ie, saying " they stand to gain financially" the truth is, that cancer center directors from across the state will make those decisions in a process based on the NIH's grant award mechanisms, and this will ensure that only the best research gets funded.

It will also address the brain drain that San Diegans need to pay attention to- we have SUCH great scientists and institutions here, doing cutting edge research. Several UC scientists , and Bruce Beutler, our recent Nobel laureate from Scripps, left California to go to Texas, where a bond measure infused Texas' economy with cancer research funding. At an ACS CAN event last week, Dr. Roger Tsien, UC San Diego's Nobel laureate (2008) , told us how even his research may not get funded because NIH funds are so limited . Imagine what great contributions can be realized when Prop 29 passes, scientists can stay in California, research is funded and we are TRULY the Golden State.

<p>www.californiansforacure.org has lots of information about Prop 29 and why you should vote YES!


redprz April 6, 2012 @ 7:49 p.m.

We worked so hard to get signatures to get the California Cancer Research Act - now Prop. 29, that we need to work just as hard to spread the word that tobacco kills!

Join the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, LIVESTRONG Foundation, and the Cancer Research Doctors and Scientist in voting Yes on Prop. 29 on June 5!

We want to safe lives and keep kids from smoking, 75% of the funds raised will go to research, 20% will be for smoking prevention and cessation programs, no more that 2 % will go to administrative costs. VOTE YES on Prop 29!!!


Visduh April 6, 2012 @ 10:21 p.m.

Isn't it amazing how these big tobacco companies can come up with $ millions to campaign against a tobacco tax? Lordy, millions of dollars for advertising. Yep, 'baccy is a most lucrative product, especially when you can brand it. All those Marlboro cowboys who died of lung cancer did not die in vain. That brand may be the most profitable branded product in the world, and if it is not, is a rich vein for Altria to mine into perpetuity. The real matter here is that the cigarette and snuff manufacturers all protest that they do not want youth to smoke or dip, yet that is the age group that is most likely to become addicted. Nothing much has changed in tobacco marketing in the past fifty years. The stuff remains highly addictive and its dark, forbidden image makes it more attractive to kids.


onemore4acure April 7, 2012 @ 7:54 a.m.

When we raise the price of cigarettes, we see a significant reduction in youth and adult smoking. (see Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids) The makers of Marlboro know this. That's why they will spend millions to try to keep cigarette prices low. Don't we want more people to quit smoking? Don't we want California to find an answer to cancer? I'll be voting YES on Prop 29, the California Cancer Research Act on June 5.


mfoor April 9, 2012 @ 10:21 a.m.

If Prop 29 is passed we will have fewer teen smokers and more people will quit, which big tobacco sees as a threat to their profits. I do not want my son to start smoking. Prop 29 will provide nearly $600 million a year to support new research to fight cancer. The only choice is to say yes to help save lives. I will vote YES on Prop 29 and you should too. June 5th is the day your voice can be heard!


NanaB April 9, 2012 @ 3:56 p.m.

It should make us all angry to think of the profits the tobacco industry has made at the cost of human lives. Their product addicts and intraps people, sometimes for life. We know tobacco causes cancer and other disease and a YES vote on Prop 29 will keep kids from starting to smoke, fund cancer research and SAVE LIVES! Maybe the life of someone you know and love. Vote Yes on Prop 29 and make a positive difference in our future!


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