No on Smoking, Yes on 29

As a doctor who has seen many lives destroyed by cigarette smoking, and as an American Heart Association volunteer, I strongly urge your readers to vote yes on Prop 29.

With cardiovascular disease as the No. 1 killer in California and with 30 percent of these deaths attributed to smoking, we have a chance to change the tide with Prop 29. This proposed $1 tobacco tax – paid only by those who purchase tobacco products – will save 104,000 lives, stop 228,000 kids from smoking, and generate more than $500 million dollars every year to support advances in the prevention, detection, and treatment of heart disease, cancer, and other smoking-related illnesses.

Prop 29 includes important safeguards and strict accountability. Oversight is governed by a nine-member committee of California’s leading research experts, representatives of disease advocacy organizations, and survivors. Prop 29 protects taxpayers with criminal penalties for misuse of funds. The measure was also clearly written to ensure that money is spent on research in California, at California facilities, by California scientists and doctors.

Tobacco companies know Prop 29 will work, that’s why they are spending millions to convince voters it’s bad for California.

But who do you think has Californians’ best interests in mind – the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and American Lung Association, or the tobacco companies that have been addicting Americans to their deadly products for decades? A “yes” vote for Prop 29 will save lives, keep children from smoking, and will find cures.

Joe Aragon, MD, is the Cardiology Division Director for Sansum Clinic

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