The California Cancer Research Act is advocating to raise the excise tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1 in a voter referendum scheduled for the next statewide ballot, either in June 2011 or February 2012.
If approved, the initiative could raise between $600-750 million per year for cancer research, education and smoking cessation programs for California residents.
Seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor, Lance Armstrong, joined the cause last month. "Well, I continue to be a person, as a cancer survivor, who hates this disease," said Armstrong. "I hate cancer. It's real simple. And no matter what we have to do in any state, in any country, to help fight the disease, then we'll do it."
However, Philip Morris USA, the nation's largest cigarette manufacturer and home of the Marlboro Man, has created a new Political Action Committee (PAC) to fight the additional tax, claiming it is a regressive tax hurting both low-income smokers and the merchants that sell their products.
Join us in sending a message to two Board Directors of Altria Group, parent company of Philip Morris, and members of their Social Responsibility Committee (as well as university professors) that you support the California Cancer Research Act and that they should instead invest their dollars in education and cessation programs for their customers.
A recent analysis by Tobacco Free Kids found that in addition to saving lives and preventing kids from smoking, the California Cancer Research Act will also generate jobs and economic development related to the investment in cancer research at the state's leading research institutions and save billions of dollars in smoking-related health care costs. Key findings of the analysis related to the impact of the California Cancer Research Act on Southern California include:
* 142,500 kids in Southern California kept from becoming addicted adult smokers
* 64,500 current adult smokers in Southern California who would quit
* 62,600 Southern California residents saved from premature smoking-caused death
* $3.1 billion long-term health savings in Southern California from adult & youth smoking reductions
Since you are a member of Altria's Board of Directors, I am asking that you advise your management team to reconsider its opposition to this life-saving initiative. As awareness of this opposition grows in the press, it will only hurt Altria's long-term public image.