Washington Increase the Tobacco Tax, Initiative 773 (2001)

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The Washington Increase the Tobacco Tax Initiative, also known as Initiative Measure 773, was on the November 6, 2001 ballot as an Initiative to the People in Washington, where it was approved. This initiative adds two new sales taxes to cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Election results

Washington Initiative Measure 773 (2001)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 948,529 66.1%
No486,91233.9%

Election results via the Washington Secretary of State.[1]

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[2]

Initiative Measure No. 773 concerns additional tobacco taxes for low-income health programs and other programs. This measure would impose an additional sales tax on cigarettes and a surtax on wholesaled tobacco products. The proceeds would be earmarked for existing programs and expanded health care services for low-income persons.

Should this measure be enacted into law?[3]

Path to the ballot

The ballot wording was filed on March 26, 2001 by Astrid Berg of Seattle. 275,081 signatures were submitted and found sufficient.

Support

Arguments in favor

These arguments in support appeared in the official State of Washington Voter Guide:[4]

People you know and trust are voting “yes” on I-773. Why?

Because they know I-773 will improve the health of low-income working adults and their children by expanding access to the Basic Health Plan and protect kids from tobacco by fully funding programs to prevent kids from smoking.

THE WASHINGTON STATE NURSES ASSOCIATION AND THE WASHINGTON ACADEMY OF FAMILY PHYSICIANS SAY “VOTE YES ON I-773”

Over 750,000 people in our state are uninsured; 70% of them are from working families. I-773 will expand access to no-frills health care so that working families can make ends meet in today’s economy.

THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY AND THE WASHINGTON STATE PTA SAY “VOTE YES ON I-773”

Did you know 65 kids in Washington start smoking every day? We’ve seen alarming increases in tobacco use by kids in Washington – 29% of our high school seniors are smokers. I-773 will mean fewer kids start smoking.

THE AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION AND AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION SAY “VOTE YES ON I-773”

Tobacco kills over 8,000 Washingtonians a year and costs $1.3 billion in health care for tobacco-related illnesses. By raising the sales tax on tobacco 60¢ per pack, I-773 will provide health care for working families and reduce smoking, creating stronger and healthier children, schools and workplaces. By voting Yes on I-773 we can increase health coverage and reduce the incidence of illnesses like heart disease and lung cancer that hit low-income people the hardest.

I-773: FOR KIDS, FOR WORKING FAMILIES, FOR A HEALTHIER WASHINGTON

Warning! Huge out-of-state tobacco corporations will spend millions trying to defeat I-773. They know if you approve I-773 they’ll sell fewer cigarettes to our children. Their adult customers are dying or quitting, so “Big Tobacco” needs kids to start smoking.

To see sources and learn more, please visit www.i773.org. Please join us in voting “Yes on I-773.” Thank you.

Rebuttal of Statement Against

Who do you trust to tell the truth about health and kids? The American Cancer Society, Heart Association, Lung Association, Doctors, Nurses and the PTA support I-773. Philip Morris opposes it. Tobacco corporations will say anything to protect their profits at the expense of our children. Don’t be fooled. I-773 expands health care coverage for low-income working families. It reduces tobacco use, especially among kids. I-773 protects kids from tobacco and increases access to no-frills health care.[3]

Supporters

The following individuals signed the argument in support of Initiative 773 in the State of Washington's official voter guide:

  • Robert A. Crittenden, President, Washington Academy of Family Physicians
  • Louise Kaplan, President, Washington State Nurses Association
  • Ann Marie Pomerinke, CEO, American Cancer Society, Northwest Division
  • Sandra Hijikata, Executive Vice-President, American Heart Association, Northwest Affiliate
  • Astrid Berg, Executive Director, American Lung Association of Washington
  • John Stokes, Legislative Director, Washington State PTA

Opposition

Arguments against

These arguments in opposition appeared in the official State of Washington Voter Guide:[5]

IT’S ABOUT RAISING TAXES—NOT BETTER HEALTH CARE FOR WORKING FAMILIES

Initiative 773 is a dismal failure when it comes to improving health care for working families. It drastically raises consumer taxes that will first cover a host of existing government programs totally unrelated to the Basic Health Plan— before the Basic Health Plan or tobacco prevention receive one penny in additional funding. It’s an unreliable, risky scheme that could have disastrous consequences for all taxpayers.

THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT FOR IMPROVED PATIENT CARE, MORE DOCTORS OR SERVICES

According to the Washington Healthcare Authority, some health plans doing business with the state no longer offer services in rural areas. I-773 does nothing to assure coverage in areas currently served, nor to re-establish needed coverage in rural areas.

I-773 EXPANDS THE BASIC HEALTH PLAN WITHOUT A RELIABLE WAY TO FUND IT

The initiative assumes that the taxes it raises will cause revenues for other state programs to decline. That’s why it requires these new taxes to cover such shortfalls first. Still, it allows for continuous expansion of the Basic Health Plan, creating a huge potential liability for state taxpayers in the future.

I-773 ENDANGERS VITAL STATE PROGRAMS INCLUDING K-12 EDUCATION

I-773 is a poorly drafted measure that hamstrings future state budgets. Without the flexibility to meet changing needs with limited resources, critical programs like K-12 Education, Higher Education and Environmental Protection will suffer unless general taxes are increased!

VOTE NO ON INCREASED SPENDING WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY

I-773 throws hundreds of millions of dollars into premiums for health care coverage without any fundamental auditing requirements. Washington has $300 million in tobacco settlement payments available this biennium alone. Let’s use these funds first and improve management of the health plan before raising additional taxes on consumers.

Rebuttal of Statement For

Who really profits from I-773? The big HMOs who will pocket hundreds of millions of consumer tax dollars for more premiums. But they won’t have to provide more doctors or improve the quality of medical treatment. They spent $789,000 just to get on the ballot, and they’ll spend millions more to get voters to go along with this special interest money grab. Cut through their smokescreen, and just say “no” to I-773![3]

Opponents

The following individuals signed the argument in opposition of Initiative 773 in the State of Washington's official voter guide:

See also

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