Saying he wants to help fight tobacco company interests, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday kicked in up to $500,000 to support Proposition 29 on the June 5 California ballot. He challenged supporters to match that amount, yielding a potential $1 million to help pass the measure.
Proposition 29, aimed at reducing smoking, especially among the young, would levy an additional $1 per pack cigarette tax to raise money for research on tobacco-related illnesses and stop-smoking programs.
Major tobacco companies have poured over $30 million into defeating the measure. Some taxpayer organizations also are opposing the proposition on the grounds that it would create another bureaucracy at a time when the state is facing a mounting budget deficit.
Bloomberg, a leading advocate for reducing tobacco use, said in a statement:
"Every day, tobacco kills. Right now, big tobacco is pouring tens of millions into California to defeat a common-sense measure that would help reduce tobacco use, and something has to be done about it."
Bloomberg urged potential donors to "do everything we can to help make Proposition 29 become a reality, because it will save lives."
More information about the measure, including where to donate toward Bloomberg's matching grant, can be found at www.Californiansforacure.org.
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Photo: NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during commencement Sunday at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Credit: Takaai Iwabu / Raleigh News & Observer / MCT