Fifth Third Tobaccos and News Stand


Proposition 29 Results Are Close Enough to Make You Want to Chain Smoke

By Albert SamahaWed., Jun. 6 2012 at 4:13 PM

Comments (37)

Categories: Politics

Will Prop 29 end up crumpled and lifeless in an ash tray?

It's all gotta be part of Big Tobacco's plan. Tobacco companies pumped more than $46 million into the campaign against Proposition 29, which would increase the tax on cigarette packs by $1.

Perhaps they could have donated more money. Instead, they might have struck the exact minimum amount necessary to defeat the ballot initiative.

Because now, deep into the afternoon of the day after the election, Prop. 29 results remain too close too call. It could be days before a definitive answer.

So, in the meantime, the faithful on either side must be pulling out their hair, and biting their nails, and grinding their teeth, and pacing in circles... chain-smoking.

Just how Big Tobacco drew it up!

At press time for this morning's paper, the Chronicle reported that Prop. 29 was slightly ahead, 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent. By the morning, though, the Associated Press reported that the initiative was losing, 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent.

Just two or three months ago, it didn't seem like this vote would be so close. A Public Policy Institute of California poll showed that more than two-thirds of voters supported Prop. 29. But that was before the $46 million "No on 29" advertising wave. By comparison, Prop. 29 advocates, including Lance Armstrong and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have contributed $11 million.

When PPIC took another poll in late May, 53 percent of Californians supported Prop. 29, even though 63 percent supported "increasing taxes on cigarette purchases." Clearly, the anti-29 strategy of untying the initiative from people's feelings about smoking worked.

That tax hike would send $735 million a year toward cancer research, and tens of millions more toward programs that help people quit smoking. Those against the plan argue that none of the money is helping decrease the state's budget deficit, none of the money is going toward education, not one dime is going toward cancer treatment, and that the money is allowed to go into other states.

Supporters counter that, saying a $1 tax increase has nothing to do with the state budget, and that this is solely about helping researchers defeat cancer and helping people give up their smoking habit. The money might go into other states, but only because there are cancer research facilities there. And the money isn't going toward treatment because there is no definitive cure for cancer yet.

If it passes, Prop. 29 would bump California's cigarette tax from the 33rd highest in the nation to the 16th. According to the city's Department of Elections data, San Francisco is the most pro-29 county in the state. Initial returns showed that 73 percent of us voted "yes."

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Russia's Jerusalem land claim worries Israelis

Olmert's cabinet agrees to hand over small tract known as Sergei's Courtyard to Russian control. Legal Forum for the Land of Israel says deal 'breach of Israeli sovereignty' and may set precedent for other land claims

Associated Press Published: 10.07.08, 11:07 / Israel News

The Russians are coming to downtown Jerusalem, reclaiming ownership of a landmark with the approval of the Israeli government, just as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visits Moscow to try to iron out serious policy differences that have sprung up between the two countries.

Moscow Visit

Russian FM: Committed to preventing military nuclearization in Iran / Roni Sofer

Prime Minister Olmert meets with Russian minister shortly after landing in Moscow. Israel maintains Kremlin sees eye-to-eye with Jerusalem on concerns regarding Tehran's nuclear ambitions
Full Story

After years of contacts, Olmert's cabinet agreed Sunday to hand over the small tract known as Sergei's Courtyard. The area, which once accommodated Russian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land, now houses offices of Israel's Agriculture Ministry and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.

The property includes a lush garden and the massive buildings around it - a turret-like structure at the intersection of two downtown streets and the sand-colored fortress-like wings leading from it.

The timing of the gesture is clear. After years of relatively smooth relations, serious problems have cropped up between Israel and Russia. One concerned Russia's summer invasion of Georgia, which has become a close ally of Israel in recent years. More importantly, Israel is concerned about Russia's role in helping, or not stopping, the nuclear program of Israel's archenemy, Iran.

Olmert hopes to talk through those issues during his two-day trip to Moscow. He was scheduled to meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday before returning to Israel.

'Nothing to do with imperial ambitions'
Not everyone is happy about Israel's Jerusalem goodwill gesture. Hardline groups bridle at any transfer of control in Jerusalem, because they oppose Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts that would require sharing the city. Israel TV described the transfer as "Russian autonomy in downtown Jerusalem." The Cabinet decision says no major changes can be made at the site without approval of both governments.

The official transfer may be delayed because of an appeal filed by the nationalistic Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, which said the deal is a "breach of Israeli sovereignty."

Nachi Eyal, the group's director, warned the deal could set a precedent for other land claims. A Russian official denied accusations it seeks greater influence in the Middle East through the acquisition of Sergei's Courtyard, calling its desire to own the place a matter of historical significance.

"This has nothing to do with what is being called imperial ambitions because it's not a military base or something that can serve those purposes," Said Alexei Skosyrev, a political counselor at the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv. He said the building will be used as a Russian cultural center to "Promote bilateral relations" Between the two countries.

The site, named for Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, a son of Czar Alexander II, was built in 1890 and is part of the larger Russian Compound, most of which Israel purchased 45 years ago. It paid in oranges because it lacked hard currency.

Negotiations over the site began in the 1990s. In 2005, after years of lagging progress on the deal, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised former Russian President Vladimir Putin the land would be returned.


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