As September winds down, so do the days that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has to sign or veto hundreds of bills still on his desk. A list of many bills of interest to health advocates, and their status, is being updated at:

PROPOSITION 86 TOBACCO TAX: As Californian political watchers turn from legislation to the upcoming elections, one of the ballot measures getting more attention than most is Proposition 86, which would increase tobacco taxes by $2.60 per pack of cigarettes, and fund health programs.

If passed, it would raise California ’s tobacco tax to $3.47, discouraging hundreds of thousands of Californians from smoking, yet raising $2.1 billion raised from the new tax would augment treatment funding and expand health coverage to uninsured children in California .

SUPPORT & OPPOSITION: The measure is supported by a range of groups, with key sponsors including the California division of the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association of California, California Hospital Association, Children Now, PICO California, and the Children’s Partnership. A full list of supporters is at:

The measure is opposed by the tobacco industry, with over $35 million being spent and growing, run by the same consultants who ran campaigns against other recent health care measures, including Propositions 72 and 79. The tobacco industry has spent several weeks attacking Proposition 86, using a host of arguments with the intent to confuse–including ones on consumer protection issues. In response, consumer advocates such as Health Access California and CALPIRG spotlighted their support for the measure, contrasting their credibility with that of the tobacco companies’ credibility on such matters.

MORE INFORMATION: This and other information is available at the independent HealthVote website, at:

Voter pamphlets are being mailed, although the summary, analysis, and arguments for and against Proposition 86 are available at the Secretary of State’s website, at:

REDUCING SMOKING, SAVING LIVES AND MONEY: A study by the Department of Health Services found Proposition 86 would prevent hundreds of thousands of teenagers from becoming smokers, saving lives and billions in healthcare costs. In particular, it states that:
Prop. 86 would reduce the number of cigarettes consumed in California by more than one quarter (26.3 percent).

  • About half a million Californians would quit smoking.
  • More than 700,000 children currently under 17 years of age would not become smokers in adulthood.
  • The state would take in an additional $2.27 billion in revenues (this estimate is $170 million larger than the Legislative Analyst’s estimate of $2.1 billion).
  • Total California tax revenues from cigarettes (excise tax of $3.47 per pack of cigarettes plus five percent sales tax) would increase more than $3 billion a year.
  • The state would save more than $16 billion in health care costs.
  • About 300,000 fewer premature deaths would occur, including nearly 180,000 deathsdue to smoking among children currently under 17.

The proponents have a summary of the study at their website, at:

EXPANDING CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE: Health advocates had set 2006 as the year to expand health coverage to the state’s 800,000 remaining uninsured children. Efforts to expand funding for children’s health insurance fell flat during the budget season this year, but Proposition 86 provides revenue for this purpose.
Proposition 86 would ensure that all children under age 19 have access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance. Children in families at or below 300% of poverty ($60,000 a year for a family of 4) and not currently eligible for public programs would become eligible for health insurance through Healthy Families. Additionally, Proposition 86 also makes it easier for families to enroll their children and keep them covered.

More information about Proposition 86, in the context of the campaign to cover all California children, is at the 100% Campaign website, at:

HEALTH PROGRAMS FUNDED: Revenues from Proposition 86 would also go to fund a range of other services, including much-needed funds that would in part assist public hospitals, community clinics, and other safety-net institutions.

  • Treatment (53%)
  • Hospital emergency care services ($756 million)
  • Nurse education ($91 million)
  • Community Clinics ($58 million)
  • Emergency physicians ($66 million)
  • Steve Thompson physician education fund ($8 million)
  • Prostate cancer treatment ($18 million)
  • Tobacco cessation ($18 million)
  • Prevention (42%)
  • Children’s health insurance ($367 million)
  • Tobacco prevention, education and enforcement programs ($175 million)
  • Cancer, heart, asthma and other disease prevention and control programs ($265 million)
  • Research (5%)
  • Includes tobacco-related disease and cancer research ($95 million)

ACTION: SUPPORT PROP 86: For your organization to sign up as a supporter, or to find out ways to help the campaign, visit the Yes on 86 website, at:

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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