A well-financed campaign backed by billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, medical groups and organized labor said Monday that it collected more than 1 million signatures for a ballot measure to raise California's cigarette tax by $2 a pack.
Steyer and other leaders of the Save Lives California coalition delivered boxes of petitions to the San Diego County of Registrar of Voters office and will do the same at county offices throughout the state in coming days in its bid to raise the tax to $2.87 a pack.
If 585,407 signatures are verified, the proposed state constitutional amendment would appear on an increasingly crowded Nov. 8 ballot alongside proposals to overturn a ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and require actors to use condoms in adult films.
The announcement came less than a month after Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation to make California the second state in the nation, following Hawaii, to raise the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21. Beginning June 9, it will be a crime to sell or give tobacco to anyone under 21 — except military personnel.
The tax increase would apply to electronic cigarettes and other products with tobacco or nicotine. The measure calls for proceeds to be spent on Medi-Cal — the state's version of Medicaid — along with anti-smoking campaigns and medical research.