By HANNAH DREIER, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Big Tobacco's branding a proposed California cigarette tax as a government boondoggle sent a message that could echo in other states.
Through a barrage of campaign ads, the industry was able to cut support for a $1-a-pack cigarette tax backed by cycling legend Lance Armstrong from a two-thirds majority in March to a dead heat on Election Day.
While the outcome remained unclear Wednesday afternoon, experts said the vote could scare off tobacco foes in other states.
The $47 million ad campaign — which scarcely motioned the word "tobacco" — also showed that cigarette makers are shifting from arguing about their product to finding other ways to attack tax initiatives.
Anti-smoking advocates say they will keep fighting for increased taxes, which have been shown to cut smoking rates.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.