But the tobacco tax, pitched to voters under Proposition 29 in Tuesday's primary, has failed by six tenths of a percentage point, according to the Associated Press.
The crumbling support for the measure was fueled by opposition ads, paid for as part of a $47-million opposition campaign bankrolled by Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
The ad that caused the biggest uproar featured a Northern California doctor, draped in a white lab coat, earnestly warning viewers that the tax money would be gummed up by a new bureaucracy "run by political appointees," with not a penny going to treat cancer patients.
The American Cancer Society and cycling champ (and cancer survivor) Lance Armstrong, among the measure's biggest supporters, cried foul.
"They were desperately trying to make Prop. 29 about something other than cancer and tobacco," said Chris Lehman, campaign manager for Yes on 29.
"With a lot of voters, they had success in doing that."
Maybe not a tax on them -- only about 14% of Californians smoke -- but a tax nevertheless.