Cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong wants the tax on cigarettes in California raised from 87 cents per pack, to $1.87. Other tobacco products would also be taxed with an equally large increase. Mr. Armstrong is a co-founder of the California Cancer Research Act, proposed legislation estimated to generate over $800 million annually for cancer research, prevention, treament and education. Cancer survivor Don Perata is the bill’s sponsor. Perata was a California state legislator for four years ending in 2008, and currently is a lobbyist for a California prison guard union.
Mr. Armstrong said, “The scale of this disease and the devastation that it takes on, not even a daily or weekly basis, but on an hourly basis, is immense. I think the people working in the labs and working in the hospitals are certainly worthy of an initiative like this.” (Source: LA Times)
Tobacco corporation Philip Morris is already beginning to fight against the proposed tax increase by donating $128,000 in February alone for a counter campaign. Organizers for the Cancer Research Act succeeded in collecting over 400,000 signatures to get the bill on a statewide ballot for next February. However, governor Jerry Brown wants to have a special election this June, and voting for the CCRA could take place then. If Governor Brown is successful in getting two-thirds of the California legislature to vote for the June special election, Californians will get their say on CCRA in a little over three months.
Armstrong founded a cancer non-profit years ago called the Livestrong Foundation, which has raised $325 million so far. Those funds have gone to support cancer research and survivor support programs. Armstrong has retired from cycling, and is focusing his attention on cancer awareness and fundraising for research. On the legislative front he is also pushing for a ban on indoor smoking in workplaces for his home state of Texas.
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