Propositions 28 and 31 are the easiest “yes” votes on the California ballot. They both benefit children

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Proposition 31 would ban the sale of most flavored tobacco products. (Marshall Ritzel/Associated Press)

Two proposals on the state ballot may be the easiest “yes” votes you can find. Both help children.

Proposition 31 would ban the retail sale in California of flavored tobacco products that are creating nicotine addiction among teens at an epidemic rate, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Proposition 28 would guarantee significantly more funding for music and the arts in public schools – and without raising taxes. There would finally be a safety net for programs that principals usually cut first when there is a shortage of money.

None of these measures have attracted much attention in an election season dominated by the national struggle for control of Congress. In Los Angeles, the focus was on the mayoral race and shameful bigoted remarks by three city council members.

Also contributing to the obscurity of both measures: there was only token opposition against 31 and none – zip – against 28.

Proposition 31 is a tobacco industry-sponsored referendum to repeal a law signed into law by the Legislative Assembly and Governor Gavin Newsom two years ago. A “yes” vote is needed to finally put the law into effect.

The measure prohibits the sale of most flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. It is aimed at the new generation of nicotine dispensers, commonly known as e-cigarettes.

It drew just one “no” in the legislative floor vote and was due to come into force on January 1, 2021.

But the tobacco companies – mainly RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris – decided to squeeze another nearly two years out of these new nicotine injectors by collecting enough voter signatures to qualify a referendum for the ballot. Once a referendum qualifies, the targeted law is suspended until voters decide.

This worked very well for large tobaccos. He spent $20 million collecting signatures and raked in around $1 billion in nicotine-related revenue, according to the “yes” side.

So Tobacco has already won and doesn’t bother to put up a competitive fight against Proposition 31. It’s only spent about $2.6 million, while 31 supporters have amassed a war chest of 38 millions of dollars. The “yes” camp intends to broadcast television advertisements until election day.

Another reason why tobacco really isn’t fighting: About 140 counties and cities — including Los Angeles and San Diego — have already passed ordinances restricting sales of flavored tobacco products.

We’re talking toxic nicotine that’s flavored with flavors designed to hook kids: cherry, chocolate, mint, cotton candy, gummy bears.

“These products that kids are seeing now, they’re nothing like what we saw when we were kids,” says Jim Knox, lobbyist for the political arm of the American Cancer Society.

“They’re flavored to lure kids into a life of nicotine addiction, and kids are biting. These are the tobacco products most commonly used by adolescents.

Former state senator Jerry Hill, a Democrat from San Mateo who drafted the legislation, said he acted because of a nearly 80% increase in e-cigarette use among teens. secondary school students. Among adolescent nicotine users, 85% inhale flavored tobacco.

“I’ve known people who died of lung cancer and I’ve seen the effect of smoking on facial expressions and the aging it causes,” Hill says.

So why allow tobacco companies to peddle their addictive toxins to children?

The ‘no’s point out that it is already illegal to sell any tobacco product to anyone under 21. Yet teenagers have always acquired cigarettes.

“It would be a total ban” on flavored tobacco for all age groups, notes spokeswoman Beth Miller. “And prohibition never works. This would expand the illegal market, which is easier to access.

I suspect most voters aren’t buying the tobacco pitch. And they shouldn’t let tobacco peddle its juicy, fruity poison.

Proposition 28 would end the discrimination of education against music and the arts.

Approximately $1 billion is currently spent on these programs in elementary and secondary schools. Proposition 28 would add about another $1 billion.

The state would be required to increase funding for music and the arts by 1% of the amount currently guaranteed for K-12 schools under Proposition 98, approved by voters long ago. All schools would receive additional money. And there would be even more funds for campuses with lots of students from low-income families.

Normally, I’m opposed to such “ballot box budgeting” when the electorate freezes taxpayers’ money for a specific purpose rather than allowing the governor and legislature to do their job of setting priorities. And that just means that when the budget surplus runs out, money will have to be taken out of some non-education related programs.

But this is an abstract ideal. In this case, politicians for generations have gotten rid of music and the arts and failed to do their job. Thus, Proposition 28 is a necessary last resort.

Besides orchestra, band, choir and art, beneficiaries would include dance, theater and graphic design.

The architect of the measure and biggest funder is the former LA Unified superintendent. Austin Beutner, a philanthropist and former Times editor who made his fortune in investment banking.

Beutner wrote the initiative, led the collection of signatures, and contributed more than $4 million to gain voter approval. In total, the campaign raised nearly $12 million.

There is no organized opposition – a rarity.

Music and the arts “motivate the part of the brain used for critical thinking and problem solving,” says Beutner, who was a cellist and bassist in high school.

“It’s a way for children to express their thoughts and feelings when they can’t do so with spoken or written words. Children want to participate if they have the opportunity.

He calls 28 “the feel-good story of 2022.”

Children should feel good playing music or singing, not inhaling candy-flavored, cancer-fighting nicotine.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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