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First TV Spot for Prop 29 Pushes Back Against Big Tobacco

Backers of the June 5 cigarette tax initiative put out their first TV ad yesterday (above) in an attempt to beat back "Big Tobacco."

"Political Jujitsu. Best way to push back when the tobacco companies lie? See for yourself," reads a post on the Yes on 29 Facebook page.

The ad comes in response to an earlier one from the No on 29 camp. That ad, which appears below, was in fact paid for by a committee that is funded overwhelmingly by two tobacco titans, Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

It should come as no surprise that tobacco companies would be against Prop 29. That ballot measure would more than double the state excise tax on cigarettes, raising it from $.87 to $1.87 per pack. The cost is expected to be passed on to consumers but would still almost certainly impact sales, which means a bottom-line hit for tobacco companies.

Nor should it surprise that truth is the whipping boy to random facts. While we haven't done a complete fact-check on either ad yet, at least one claim in the No on 29 video stands out as a bit of classic misdirection. The good doctor says that "not one penny goes to new funding for cancer treatment," and that is strictly true. The bulk of the revenues raised by the new law (an estimated $735 million in 2013) would be earmarked for cancer research and smoking prevention programs. But no one is arguing the measure will address cancer treatment directly, so there's nothing to rebut here.

The California Secretary of State's office has an unbiased and fairly straightforward breakdown of Prop 29. You should read the full text of the measure for yourself. Then you can form your own opinion.