Prop 29, Proposed Tax on Tobacco, Has Failed
SACRAMENTO -- Asking voters to slap a $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes to fund cancer research seemed like a cinch in health-crazy California, where lighting up already is banned in bars, public buildings and on many of its golden beaches.

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 measure failed by 50.3 percent to 49.7 with about 5 million votes cast, the Associated Press determined Friday. The measure was losing by about 27,000 votes with 150,000 ballots remaining to be counted, which is too few for the 'yes' side to pull ahead.

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.