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Measure would increase the state tax on cigarettes by $1 to raise money for cancer research and anti-smoking programs.
A California ballot measure to raise the state tax on cigarettes was losing early Wednesday but still too close to call because hundreds of thousands of ballots remained uncounted.
Proposition 29 was losing by just over 1 percent, or about 64,000 votes out of more than 3.8 million counted, The Associated Press reported.
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But even with all precincts reporting, late-arriving early and absentee voting ballots had yet to be counted and typically comprise up to 20 percent of all votes. That means official results may not be declared for days, the AP reported.
Based by cycling legend Lance Armstrong and the American Cancer Society, Proposition 29 would increase the state tax on cigarettes by $1 to raise money for cancer research and anti-smoking programs, the Orange County Register reported.
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Tobacco companies poured nearly $47 million into an aggressive campaign to defeat the measure. The tax would raise an estimated $860 million a year if approved, according to the Los Angeles Times.
California voters rejected a similar ballot measure in 2006. They last raised the tobacco tax in 1998, Capital Public Radio reported.
If Proposition 29 passes, California would have the 16th highest tax rate in the nation, according to the AP.