During its Presidential primary election, California voters also had the chance to weigh in on a proposed $1/pack tax on cigarettes to fund cancer research. Polling just a few weeks before the vote showed widespread support in a state that is health-conscious, cash strapped and has one of the lowest smoking rates in the country. But on election day, the measure was narrowly defeated. What happened in those few weeks?
$47 million dollars of attack ads on radio and television, funded by Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds. Knowing that arguing against cancer research was a losing strategy, Big Tobacco implied that the money would instead feed a huge new bureaucracy, with little money actually helping cancer victims.