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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

June 18, 2014 at 1:58 PM

No vote on cigarette tax increase this year

Voters will not be asked this year to raise the cigarette tax by $1 a pack to fund a new $1 billion cancer-research fund.

Despite spending nearly $500,000 on signature gathering and consulting already, backers of Initiative 1356 have decided not to run the initiative this fall.

Sandeep Kaushik, spokesman for the I-1356 campaign, said supporters were uncertain they’d be able to raise enough money to counteract tens of millions of dollars tobacco companies would have likely poured into the state to fight the measure.

“We were going have to raise substantial resources ourselves in order to have a high likelihood of success. The clock ran out on that,” Kaushik said.

The initiative also faced questions from from State Treasurer Jim McIntire, who feared it could jeopardize existing tax collections that help fund schools.

At $3.03 per pack, Washington’s cigarette tax already is the sixth-highest in the nation.

The cancer-fund proposal – which was strongly backed by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s – may return in 2016, when high voter turnout from a presidential election could work in the initiative’s favor, Kaushik said.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: cancer research, Cigarette tax, Initiative 1356


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