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Tobacco tax vote count continues, gap almost cut in half

June 12, 2012 |  9:17 am

The vote count for the tobacco tax on last week’s primary ballot narrowed again Tuesday as elections officials across California tallied hundreds of thousands of uncounted ballots.

The measure, known as Proposition 29, was losing by just over 33,200, a gap that narrowed from 63,000 on election night, state election figures show.

More than 4.5 million ballots already have been counted across the state. The Secretary of State’s office estimates that, as of Monday evening, 777,000 ballots remain uncounted. Shortly after the primary, there were more than a million uncounted ballots statewide.

The uncounted ballots consist of many cast by mail, as well as provisional and damaged ones.

Proposition 29 would add a $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes to raise an estimated $860 million a year for research on tobacco-related diseases and prevention programs. The American Cancer Society and cycling champ Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor, were among the measure’s biggest proponents, helping to raise more than $11 million to support the ballot initiative.

Tobacco companies poured nearly $47 million into their campaign to defeat Proposition 29 and were joined by anti-tax and business groups.

--Phil Willon