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Vote on tobacco tax ballot measure narrows again

June 21, 2012 |  8:00 am

The vote count for the tobacco tax on the June 5 primary ballot narrowed even more Thursday morning as elections officials across California continue to tally the last remaining uncounted ballots.

The measure, known as Proposition 29, was losing by 15,558 votes -– or four-tenths of 1% -- a gap that has steadily tightened from 63,000 on election night.

More than 4.9 million ballots already have been counted across the state. The California secretary of state’s office estimates that, as of Wednesday evening, just over 290,000 ballots remained 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, raising 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