Decision 2016: Prop 56 passes increases cigarette taxes

FILE - In this Saturday, March 2, 2013, photo, a cigarette burns in an ashtray at a home in Hayneville, Ala. A government study released on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, shows that even though fewer U.S. teens are smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke remains a big problem. Nearly half of nonsmoking kids in middle school and high school were exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke in 2013, and rates were even higher among smokers. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
FILE - In this Saturday, March 2, 2013, photo, a cigarette burns in an ashtray at a home in Hayneville, Ala. A government study released on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, shows that even though fewer U.S. teens are smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke remains a big problem. Nearly half of nonsmoking kids in middle school and high school were exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke in 2013, and rates were even higher among smokers. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

(KRON) California voters have approved a ballot measure that increases taxes on cigarettes by $2 a pack and places new taxes on electronic cigarettes.

Proposition 56 passed by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent Tuesday with more than 5 million votes counted.

The measure adds $2 to the current 87-cents-a-pack tax. It’s the first increase in California tobacco taxes since 1998.

Much of the money will fund California’s Medi-Cal, a state program that covers health care costs for the poor.

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California also joins only about a half-dozen states that tax e-cigarettes and vapor products.

Opponents, led by tobacco companies, raised more than $71 million to fight Proposition 56. Opponents said the money would benefit insurance companies and hospital corporations.

Proponents cheered the increase as a victory for public health.

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