Health | Wed Apr 2, 2008 5:06am IST

California OKs first step for cigarette tax measure

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Supporters of a California measure that would impose an additional sales tax of 75 cents on a pack of cigarettes may begin collecting signatures to qualify it for the ballot, the state's top election official said on Tuesday.

The measure would raise revenues to increase the number of children who could enroll in California's Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs and for programs that discourage the use of tobacco products.

The measure would initially raise an estimated $750 million annually, according to estimates by California's Legislative Analyst's Office.

If proponents collect 694,354 signatures of registered voters by late June, California's secretary of state could place the measure on the November ballot.

(Reporting by Jim Christie; Editing by Gary Hill)

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