Nearly two-thirds of California voters support increasing the Golden State’s cigarette tax by $2 a pack, a poll released on Wednesday found. An overwhelming amount of voters also supported a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour, the Sacramento Bee reported.
The poll, sponsored by the California Wellness Foundation, found that 67 percent of California's registered voters supported an increase in the state tobacco tax, while 30 percent opposed it. Sixty-eight percent of voters favored the wage hike and 30 percent opposed it. Proposals regarding a hike in tobacco tax as well as an increase in the minimum wage were introduced in the California Legislature or as voter initiatives in recent years. Health and labor groups announced on Wednesday legislation for the $2-a-pack cigarette tax increase.
"We are committed to raising the tobacco tax,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of the advocacy group Health Access California, the Bee reported. “We prefer to do it legislatively, but there is an active and aggressive campaign to move it onto the ballot if necessary."
Several groups have come together to support twin initiative proposals, submitted in May by a coalition of health and labor activists, that raise the California tobacco tax by $2 a pack. The SEIU California State Council, the California Medical Association, the California Dental Association and the American Cancer Society put aside $2 million in support for the proposals.
A hike from California’s current tax of 87 centers would lower dependence on tobacco and direct an estimated $1.5 billion its first year to healthcare programs, proponents say. Even though the poll found that voters back a cigarette tax hike, history tells a different story. In 2012, Proposition 29, which would have raised the tax to $1 a pack, failed to pass, and six years before that, Proposition 86, which proposed an additional $2.60 cigarette tax, failed as well.
Many states have raised consumption taxes on items like cigarettes and soda in recent years. For example, Kansas raised its cigarette tax from 50 cents to a $1.29 a pack in July.
Regarding the minimum wage, California has been taking steps that are more in line with what voters want. The state’s minimum wage was raised to $9 an hour in July 2014, and it is scheduled to be raised to $10 an hour on Jan. 1.
The poll was conducted from June 25 to July 16 by land line and cell phone of 1,555 registered voters. The results carry a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent.