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Industry News: Sharing Cigarette Bonanza
Prop. 10 funds put to work on behalf of ailing children. Measure G, H brew on use of $30-million settlement.
Author: DAVID REYES / Times Staff Writer
More than $25 million has been distributed by the county's tobacco commission, which was created by the 1998 statewide tobacco initiative that imposed a 50-cent tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products. The commission has concentrated on strategic planning, which has resulted in the speedy distribution of funds. Only 12 of 58 county commissions have allocated Proposition 10 funds.
Recently, the commission received county approval to create an independent governmental layer to funnel an estimated $50 million a year from cigarette taxes to help fund many child-development programs.
The commission's independence is significant in a county that has found itself in political turmoil over spending a separate $30 million a year expected from the tobacco industry's settlement.
County government observers, including John Chamberlain of the Orange County Taxpayers Assn., have criticized creation of the commission to allocate Proposition 10 funds, saying it adds another agency and raises the potential for overlapping services in the community.
In addition, Proposition 10 and its funding is being challenged in San Diego Superior Court in a case that went to trial recently. The lawsuit, filed by some of the state's most powerful cigarette retailers, argues the law is unconstitutional and has no governmental oversight.
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