The California branch of the NAACP on Wednesday announced that its opposition to Proposition 86 is not influenced by donations from tobacco companies or fees the industry has paid to a consulting firm owned by its president, the Sacramento Bee reports. The ballot measure would provide funds for health care programs by increasing the state tobacco tax by $2.60 per pack of cigarettes.
According to campaign records, Philip Morris this year donated $100,000 to a consulting firm owned by Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP. The donation came from a campaign account set up by the tobacco company to oppose Proposition 86.
Huffman said the money was for "outreach to the grass-roots community" and has no link to her opposition to the measure.
In addition, Philip Morris' parent company, Altria, has donated between $25,000 and $50,000 directly to the California NAACP over the last five years.
NAACP officials say the organization opposes Proposition 86 because of economic concerns. The measure would impose a "regressive tax that could hurt low-income minority communities," Huffman said.
Supporters of Proposition 86 say the increased tax would improve health care for minority California residents and cite data from the Department of Health Services that found blacks are more likely to smoke than other groups (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 10/12).
Editorials, Opinion Piece
Summaries of two recent editorials and an opinion piece addressing Proposition 86 appear below.
- Bakersfield Californian: "Proposition 86 has a slim hope of fulfilling its promises and more potential to do harm," a Californian editorial states. The measure aims at increasing funding for "good causes," but "throwing money at California's health care mess isn't the answer," according to the editorial (Bakersfield Californian, 10/11).
- San Jose Mercury News: "All California voters really need to know" is that supporting Proposition 86 "will discourage hundreds of thousands of people -- especially teens -- from smoking," a Mercury News editorial states, adding that the measure's "direct benefits to Californians are too great to ignore" (San Jose Mercury News, 10/12).
- Dr. Jon Greif, Dr. David Burns, San Diego Union-Tribune: "Proposition 86 presents a realistic way to immediately improve the health and well-being of millions of Californians," Greif, president of the California division of the American Cancer Society, and Burns, a volunteer with the American Lung Association of California, write in a Union-Tribune opinion piece. Listing supporters and opponents of the measure, Greif and Burns write that "voters will have to decide whom they trust to do the right thing for California: respected health care advocates or the tobacco industry?" (Greif/Burns, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/12).