Election time brings ubiquitous political ads to our televisions and engorges our mailboxes with politi-schmaltz.  The State of California has few hotly contested political seats in the upcoming June primary, so we’ve been spared the litany of politicians swearing by their records.  Frankly, though I’ve voted in every election possible since I was 18, I have grown apathetic to the media sensationalism of politics.

While I am not normally inclined to add to the wave of political media, I offer this non-partisan, normal-guy, non-media blog post as a reason to vote Yes on Proposition 29, from a cancer survivor’s perspective.

What does Proposition 29 have to do with cancer?

Californians have a chance to vote for or against Proposition 29, a ballot initiative that levies a $1.00 per cigarette pack excise tax to fund cancer research, smoking cessation, research facility improvement, and law enforcement.  Proposition 29 also maintains full funding of other programs that are currently funded by cigarette taxes; in other words, funding is maintained on issues such as breast cancer research despite a project drop in sales volume.

All good right? 

Dozens of ads have flooded TV and radio denouncing Proposition 29 as creating a bureaucracy, sending jobs overseas, and creating a tax and spend measure.  LOOK CLOSELY! I’m sure you have noticed that all of these ads including two spokes-doctors (one of which was removed from an oversight committee by Governor Jerry Brown) were funded by RJ Reynolds and Phillip Morris.  Before you “believe the hype” about Proposition 29 realize the negative ads are fueled by the only two parties that stand to lose from a Yes vote.

Essentially, attack ads on Proposition 29 are funded by companies that understand the price elasticity of demand of cigarettes; meaning, fewer packs will be purchased if customers have to pay more.  Since this is a per capita tax, not a price change by the cigarette companies, lower volume and potentially a lower per pack price (to offset the dollar tax) equals lower revenue and profit.  Makes sense that RJ Reynolds and Phillip Morris would spend millions to preserve this lucrative revenue stream!

As a cancer survivor it makes me sick to see politibabble ads try to redirect the purpose of Proposition 29 to things that have no relevance to cancer funding.  As a non-smoker that had to fight cancer twice, I hope Proposition 29 helps other cancer fighters gain the opportunity to walk into chemo appointments without having smokers standing outside of the hospital entrance puffing away and blowing secondhand smoke.  I experienced that as one of my radiation techs often smoked before he treated me; I sucked his smoke minutes before laying on the table.  “Hi, Rick [hack, hack, hack],” he’d say as I walked into the hospital.  It’s like saying, “Fuck you, Rick, I don’t give a shit if you have cancer, let me blow a little smoke your way while you are fighting for your life … You want one too?”  Though very sick at the time, that made me sicker; to know folks just don’t get it.

Among other things, cancer survivors normally offer support or counseling to others undergoing treatment.  There is a lot of emotion without rancor; however, we know how to fight and it’s time for a good fight at the ballot box.  This time we ask you, whether you are in the midst of a cancer experience or not, to support us back and Vote Yes on Proposition 29.  It is a real chance to blow secondhand smoke into Big Tobacco’s lungs and hurt them with two statistics where it matters most – new smokers created and revenue.

Not sold? Consider this when you vote:

Proposition 29 is self-funded meaning its benefits, programs, and administrative costs are all funded from the source – tax on cigarettes; in other words, outside of the cigarette tax we don’t pay more to enforce the Proposition  Cigarettes are a leading cause of cancer.  Cigarettes thereby fund cancer research.  The more dollars spent on cigarettes, commensurately, the more money is spent on cessation and law enforcement in a dollar-per-pack-ratio…Vote yes on 29.

Making cigarettes more expensive doesn’t limit anyone’s “right to smoke” but it makes it more difficult to start and maintain the habit.  How many 18 year olds can afford $5 per pack per day?… Vote yes on 29

If you don’t smoke, you don’t pay a penny in Proposition 29 tax… Vote yes on 29

If you have ever run, biked, gone for a walk, participated in a race and someone nearby was smoking and it made you think WTF? …… Vote yes on 29

If you’ve ever walked into a building through a cloud of smoke … Vote yes on 29.

If you’ve seen a car of teenagers puffing away …… Vote yes on 29.

If you live in a community and your neighbor’s smoke travels into your apartment and you hate it … … Vote yes on 29

When you’ve seen someone smoking in a closed car with children and grew nauseous …… Vote yes on 29.

If you sit next to someone who constantly reeks of cigarette smoke …… Vote yes on 29.

I you are afraid your children may be tempted to smoke, and you do not like this …[pullquote_right]Vote yes on 29[/pullquote_right]

If you want to help a loved one that smokes …… Vote yes on 29.

To piss of that guy who smokes near your kid’s soccer practice stinking up the whole park …… Vote yes on 29.

Why support an industry whose products when used correctly are designed to kill you … Vote yes on 29.

Thanks for your support.