California Approves Cigarette Tax Hike

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — California voters have approved a ballot measure that increases taxes on cigarettes by $2 a pack and places new taxes on electronic cigarettes.

Proposition 56 passed by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent Tuesday with more than 5 million votes counted.

The measure adds $2 to the current 87-cents-a-pack tax. It’s the first increase in California tobacco taxes since 1998.

Much of the money will fund California’s Medi-Cal, a state program that covers health care costs for the poor.

California also joins only about a half-dozen states that tax e-cigarettes and vapor products.

Opponents, led by tobacco companies, raised more than $71 million to fight Proposition 56. Opponents said the money would benefit insurance companies and hospital corporations.

Proponents cheered the increase as a victory for public health.