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California tobacco tax trails by razor-thin margin

SACRAMENTO — Two weeks after California elections, a closely watched effort to impose a new tax on tobacco in the nation's most populous state remains too close to call.

With 400,000 ballots outstanding as of Tuesday, the measure that would add a $1-a-pack cigarette tax is trailing by 17,500 votes, according to data compiled by the secretary of state.

Through a barrage of campaign ads, tobacco companies were able to cut support for the tax plan spearheaded by champion cyclist Lance Armstrong. Backing for the measure dwindled from a two-thirds majority in March down to a dead heat on Election Day.

Opponents raised $47 million to fight the proposal, dramatically outspending supporters, who raised $12 million.

Since the June 5 voting, Proposition 29 has seemed headed for defeat by razor-thin margins, generally trailing by less than a percentage point.


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