A California ballot measure that would have added a $1 tax to a pack of cigarettes was narrowly defeated in the state’s primary election Tuesday, an outcome observers attributed to a $47 million ad blitz by the tobacco industry.
The measure was defeated 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent on a day of light voter turnout across the state. The result reflected a long-standing political divide in California, with San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Bay Area counties showing heavy support for the measure, while conservative suburban counties in Southern California were overwhelmingly opposed.
The measure, championed, among others, by the American Cancer Society, cycling great and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, had enjoyed a commanding lead in polls earlier in the year.
But opponents, led by tobacco giants Altria’s Philip Morris and Reynolds American Inc, vastly outspent its rivals, blanketing the airwaves in much of the state in recent weeks with a message that cast doubt on how the new tax revenues would be spent.