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Cigarette tax vote loses; Huffman’s November opponent still unknown

By GUY KOVNER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

California’s proposed $1-a-pack cigarette tax lost by less than a percentage point on Friday, while a North Coast congressional race still hung in the balance as Sonoma County accounted for 23 percent of the state’s untallied ballots.

Sonoma County was one of 14 counties still counting ballots from the June 5 primary election, with 25,350 of the state’s 111,472 uncounted ballots, according to state figures.

“Still counting, still feeding cards through,” county elections chief Janice Atkinson said. “It’s just a slow process.”

Only Los Angeles County, with 26,076, had more uncounted ballots, and Fresno County was third with 24,500.

The other 11 counties all had fewer than 10,000 uncounted ballots.

Atkinson attributed the slow count to the county’s large number of vote-by-mail ballots — 23,250 — brought to polling places on election day.

An additional 1,600 provisional ballots also are uncounted. Those were cast by voters who were mailed an absentee ballot but came to the polls and said they had not received or used it.

Atkinson said a final vote count will be available on Monday “at the earliest.”

In the 2nd Congressional District, Republican Dan Roberts held a 760-vote lead over Democrat Norman Solomon in the race for second place, with Sonoma the only one of six counties in the coastal district with uncounted ballots.

Solomon had trailed Roberts by 596 votes on Tuesday, before Marin and Humboldt counties reported final results.

An unknown number of Sonoma’s uncounted votes are in the 2nd District.

The second-place winner will face Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, in November run-off. Huffman dominated the primary with 37.6 percent of the vote, more than Roberts and Solomon combined.

The cigarette tax, Proposition 29, was short by about 27,000 votes on Friday, and The Associated Press said its analysis determined that the uncounted ballots statewide would not make up the deficit.

In Sonoma County, the tax passed resoundingly, with 60.1 percent yes to 39.1 per cent no votes.

The plan to add $1 to the cigarette tax was led by cyclist Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor, and opposed by tobacco companies and others that raised $47 million to fight the measure.

California was once at the forefront of smoking restrictions and taxes, but the famously health-conscious state has not raised tobacco taxes since 1998. If the new tax had passed, California still would have had only the 16th highest tax rate in the nation. It currently ranks 33rd.

Tobacco tax proponents said they would try again.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.)





11 Responses to “Cigarette tax vote loses; Huffman’s November opponent still unknown”

  1. Cyndi B. says:

    As usual, they are going after the people and not the companies.Don’t you think they should chop at the top?!

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  2. C.P. says:

    I’m never voting for another tax increase of any kind. The government cannot be trusted any longer with all its lies and corruption.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  3. Ricardo Sorentino says:

    RE: Christian – “You can tell the people from the sheeple on the smoking issue. Their will always be the fanatical person who wishes to abolish all public smoking…”

    I went to the NASCAR race at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday. Yes, it was quite enjoyable to be surrounded by heavy smokers the entire race. The best part was the guy who smoked cigars for the entire four-hour race period… most of the time he wasn’t even puffing on it, but seemed to just enjoy the stench he was producing, knowing he was aggravating people around him. He looked so ‘cool’ with that stogie…

    It’s great that one guy could be so offensive in his selfishness and disrespect of others in a public place.

    I’m sure you would have given him the ‘thumbs-up’ at his right to smoke, no matter how it negatively impacted others. And as a reminder; it’s assigned seating there, so it’s not like you can just move to another seat to get away from people like him.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  4. Christian says:

    You can tell the people from the sheeple on the smoking issue. Their will always be the fanatical person who wishes to abolish all public smoking, but which of you truly believe such a totalitarian approach is right in a free country?

    Personally, there should not be another tax passed in this State of any kind until all income taxes and property taxes are abolished. We only require three taxes to run this entire country, sales tax, use tax and corporate taxes. Then Government would no longer be able to “take bread from the mouths of labor.”

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 7

  5. Reality Check says:

    If the public is stuck with the medical expenses of smokers, and it often is, it’s because the public chose to bear those costs.

    It is also stuck with the expenses of the obese, inactive, and children who are product of irresponsible behavior. Should we also tax obesity, laziness, and sexual promiscuity?

    Why pick on smokers only? Better yet, let’s rethink the argument that public funding of something grants the public the right to tax and regulate what some people find objectionable.

    Today smokers, tomorrow soda; football can’t be too far away.

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 6

  6. Joe says:

    When these smokers get cancer or other illnesses who do you think covers their costs? We do, insured or not insured we cover their costs, more so for the UN-insured, even up to their end of life. I don’t care what people do, but they should have to pay for their own bad habits.

    There should also be a tax on them to clean up all of the cigarette butts from sidewalks and streets, you see smokers all of the time flicking there butts on to sidewalks or flicking them out of their car windows and they are still burning when doing this.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 15

  7. Kim says:

    This was a tax for tax sake. It had no rhyme or reason, as hollow and shallow as those who put it on the ballot. How much did it cost the state to put this on the ballot?

    Thumb up 19 Thumb down 5

  8. Rome is Burning says:

    I am happily “part of the problem” and voted for this tax. I for one am tired of watching otherwise intelligent people like their cancer sticks, foul my air, and bitch about their riights. Big cig companies spent 66 million to defeat this bill so it must have been good. If folks are not smart enough to quit on their own, then make ‘em pay. A lot.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 22

  9. Mark Epstein says:

    The cigarette tax was dreamed up by money hungry politicians, hiring cynical consultants to employee unprincipled operatives to implement a plan that was guided by pollsters who gathered information to formulate a strategy to capitalize on our bigotry and short attention span. Nothing in this proposition seemed sincere or principled and, whatever else you might say about the public, they can smell a fake.

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  10. truth in law says:

    The Cig tax was just another tax on the poor. If we really cared about health and trammpling peoples freedom of choice we could pass “blue” taxes on every form of enjoyment…starting with a $100 a glass tax on alcohol. Just think how the DUI’s would go down! and all those alcohol related health problems!

    Thumb up 30 Thumb down 4

  11. J.R. Wirth says:

    So Lance Armstrong can juice up all day long, but you better not smoke a cigarette. What a hypocrite. The smoking Nazis failed, no thanks to this fascist county.

    Somehow, in the last 30 years we’ve all become accustomed to people saying “let me tell you how to live.” The nanny state is alive and well and we need to be much more forceful against it.

    Anyone who voted for this tax is part of the problem.

    Thumb up 34 Thumb down 6

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