Cigarette tax increase to fund cancer research

November 16, 2009 5:02:02 PM PST
Former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata said Monday that he's helping launch a state initiative that would increase cigarette taxes by $1 a pack to provide more than $500 million a year to prevent, detect, treat and cure cancer.

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Speaking at a news conference at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Perata said supporters of the measure, called, "Hope 2010: the California Cancer Research Act," are aiming to gather at least 434,000 signatures to place the initiative on the November 2010, ballot.

"This is probably the most rewarding and exhilarating thing I've ever worked on," Perata said.

He said it's anticipated that the cigarette tax increase would raise nearly $1 billion. Sixty percent of the funds would go toward research into the causes, treatment and prevention of cancer and other smoking-related illnesses, he said.

Twenty percent would fund smoking cessation efforts and campaigns to prevent tobacco use, 15 percent would pay for facilities and equipment to support research and 3 percent would help police enforce anti-tobacco laws and stop tobacco smuggling.

No more than 2 percent would be spent on administrative costs, Perata said.

Perata's term in the state Senate expired at the end of last year. He plans to run for mayor of Oakland next year.

Joining him at the news conference, Dr. Laura Nathan of the California division of the American Cancer Society said she believes the initiative "offers the best opportunity to invest in cancer research and cancer education."

"Even though we've made tremendous progress in preventing and treating cancer, nearly one of every two Californians born today will develop cancer at some point in their lives and nearly one in five will die from it," Nathan said.

She said she thinks the measure "will re-energize the cancer research effort."

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