LOS ANGELES - A California initiative to add a $1 per-pack tax on cigarettes was "too close to call" yesterday, with hundreds of thousands of ballots still uncounted, the Associated Press reports.
Proposition 29, which would boost the state€™s cigarette excise tax from 87 cents to $1.87 per pack, was losing by just over 1%, or 64,000 votes, out of more than 3.8 million counted. A final tally was expected to take several days.
Opponents of the bill maintain it would create an unaccountable bureaucracy in charge of distributing tax revenue, with the Los Angeles Times arguing the revenue should go to the state, which faces a $16 billion deficit.
"We expected that as voters took a look at the measure, they would recognize the serious flaws, and as well intentioned as the measure is, they would realize it's not right for California," said Beth Miller, spokeswoman for the No on 29 campaign.
Cycling champion Lance Armstrong led a coalition of anti-smoking groups who backed the proposal, raising $18 million for their effort.