As an Asian American oncologist who lost his own father to cancer, I have been concerned with the overall increasing incidence of cancer in our community. Asian Americans are the only ethnic group for whom cancer is the leading cause of death.

On June 5, Asian American and Pacific Islanders will have an opportunity to stop this killer in our community.

The Prop. 29 campaign is distributing literature in Chinese and other Asian languages.

At a time when the United States Congress has begun to drastically reduce National Institute of Health funding for all healthcare research, Prop. 29 will raise badly needed money to fill this gap while also helping to discourage people from smoking, which is still a leading cause of cancer.

Approximately 15,000-20,000 Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders will die every year because of tobacco related illnesses.

More than 17% of all Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults smoke. California smoking rates are as high as 35.9% for Korean men, 32.3% for Pacific Islander men and 24.2% Pacific Islander women.  Asian American smoking increases sevenfold from middle to high school; the rate of increase in Asian youth’s smoking is greater than that of any other ethnic group.

Studies have found significantly higher proportions of tobacco ads in ethnic minority communities.  For example, Asian American neighborhoods in San Diego had the highest proportion of billboard tobacco advertisements.  The tobacco industry typically floods Asian and Pacific Island nations with tobacco products. They also target market in minority communities in the U.S. and to children and teens leading to rapidly rising smoking rates among AA and NHPI populations.

But your vote can prevent more AAPIs from smoking and save lives.

The American Cancer Society, in partnership with the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, Lance Armstrong’s Live Strong Campaign and a number of other anti-cancer groups have sponsored Proposition 29 on the June 5 ballot.

Proposition 29 places a new $1-per-pack tax on tobacco products. California is only 33rd in the nation in taxation of tobacco products. This new tax is only paid only by those who buy tobacco products and it will save 104,000 lives; stop 228,000 kids from smoking; and generate approximately $735 million every year to support life-saving research and tobacco prevention programs.

Prop. 29 will also provide vital funding to make advances in prevention, detection and treatment of cancer, heart disease and other smoking-related illnesses — 60% will fund cancer and other smoking-related research; 20% will fund tobacco use prevention and help people quit smoking; 15% will pay for facilities and equipment to support cancer research; 3% will help enforce anti-tobacco laws and stop tobacco smuggling; 2% is the maximum amount used for administering the program.

A nine-member committee of California’s leading cancer center directors, University of California chancellors, representatives of disease advocacy organizations and cancer survivors will award all funds. That means the funds from Prop. 29 cannot be used by politicians and or used for other purposes.

Prop. 29 will triple California’s funding to help people stop smoking and make it more difficult for youth to buy tobacco products and start smoking.

Please join the following organizations to support Prop. 29 on June 5:

Asian Americans for Community Involvement

Asian Law Alliance

Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team (APAIT)

Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum,

Asian Pacific Islanders California Action Network,

Asian & Pacific Islander Cancer Survivors Network

Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON)

Asian Resources

Cambodian Senior Nutrition Program

Chinese Community Health Resource Center

Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC)

Guam Communications Network

Japanese American Citizens League

Korean Resource Center

Koreatown Youth & Community Center

Little Tokyo Service Center

Los Angeles Chinese Chamber of Commerce

National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA)

Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA)

Saath USA

Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA)

United Cambodian Community

Vietnamese Elderly Association

Vietnamese REACH for Health Coalition

United Pharmacists Network


Dr. Paul Y. Song is a radiation oncologist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center’s Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Center. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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  1. The story I am reading, is the big money rent seeking charities, in addition to promoting hatred against people who smoke with a divide and conquer strategy yet again, have finally come full circle with their prohibitionist eugenics roots and are actually attempting to rally people using the race card. How low do these miscreants have to go, before the general public sees them for what they really are, as organized criminals. The results of this vote indicate that most are not the children the big business cabal who identify themselves as “Public Health” believe them to be. The truth of the criminality driving the anti-smoker gulag is slowly rising to the top. People value rights and freedom while the anti-autonomy movement continue to scoff. Rights are power over bad government and this vote demonstrated that ideal magnificently. With a 20% smoking population, most of the votes against stealing other people’s money came from non smokers. Well done people.

    When the Governments of the world asked the scientific community for an answer to the Eugenics poisoned genetic pool theories, they answered in very simple terms; if we all originated from a common pool the only differences between us are environmental. Now the popular media has taken us back again to that same bigotry and ignorance. If smoking alone is the leading cause of cancer, why are those who reside in cities more affected than their rural neighbors? How is it that in countries where smoking is most prevalent, they have the lowest incidence of lung cancers? How is it that we can see the highest incidence on a map of the USA between the north border of Texas and Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, where the smoking prevalence is unremarkable with the rest of the country and how on earth could your culture define a higher or lower risk? Measured In current paternalist protection terms; defining people of more or less worth. These are liars and thieves of which they can be given some understanding, for their propensity toward greed, however they are also Bigots who profit by a self sanctimony promotion, which should afford them nothing, because they specifically, should know better and still they persist.

  2. The “NO” votes are 64,000 ahead of the “YES” votes. It would take a lot more than 64,000 missing votes to change things. To be realistic enough to pass muster, the votes couldn’t arrive in a ratio much different than reality. Anything over 55 to 45 for the tax would have a very distinct smell. And at the 55 to 45 ratio you’d need over a half million absentee votes to change the results.

    The antismoking industry has a lot of power, but they can’t pull something like THAT out of this bag without *totally* destroying any faith in the electoral process.

    – MJM

  3. Dunno what the wording is on Prop 8, but I have nothing against gay marriage. The State in general treats marriage as a civil union between two people with certain obligations and responsibilities and with certain mechanisms in place for dissolving the union. I see no reason why The State should care about anything other than that the two parties are at least reasonably human and of reasonable mental age/capacity (however it might be defined.)

    You mention addiction, smoking, and labor law and I find that interesting since Antismokers love to picture tobacco as “the most addictive drug of all” and yet are generally against treating that addiction as serious under labor law: they want to have their cake and eat it too. Regardless of whether someone smoking is (or was) a “choice” they are still most certainly a minority, the same as Californians would be a minority if the nation were to have a vote to hitting them with a special tax in order to force them into fiscal responsibility.

    I don’t understand what you mean by “trumping the slippery slope” ? What slippery slope? The tax will make cigarettes more available to children through the black market, it will increase crime and judicial/imprisonment costs, and it’s intended to work as a behavior modification punishment.

    – MJM

  4. With regard to Michael McFadden’s comment above…. I would tell you, first, Michael, that the “majority” voting on the fate or rights of the “minority” is, in fact, un-American and should never be done. Like civil rights and school desegregation, it must be the courts who act as honest brokers. May I assume that you feel the same way about California’s Proposition 8 banning Gay marriage?

    That said, I must diverge from your contention that smokers are a “minority.” By every definition that determines what minority status is, smoking fails miserably. While most smokers are addicted (arguably a protected category for labor law), that smokers smoke in the first place is because of choice. The same cannot be said for any actually recognized minority.

    That trumps the “slippery slope” aspect of the rest of your argument.

    While I look forward to a plethora of “unintended consequences,” the intended ones cannot be denied.

    Tony Gates

  5. 85% voting to impose a tax on 15% seems somewhat unAmerican.

    What if the US held a vote to avoid having to bail California out of its 360 BILLION dollar debt by imposing an extra 25% sales tax on all Californians’ purchases? California is about 15% of the US population so it would be the same sort of vote. How could they complain if they voted something like Prop 29 in? It would “be for their own good” after all.

    This tax will also force smokers to pay for a campaign to increase FUTURE taxes on themselves as part of “tobacco prevention.” Did you ever hear of any other minority group getting hit with a tax to be spent on raising their taxes?

    If I was a California smoker and this tax went through, I would be strongly tempted to never buy another legal cigarette in the state again — even if the black market prices were HIGHER than the legitimate ones! Of course the black market is always cheaper — and this tax will double its size and make cigarettes far more available to children; but the Antismokers don’t really care about that: the point is to fill their own coffers while playing a social engineering game. Shock “the rats” by throwing them outside in lousy weather, and then shock them again by taking what they value (their money) if they engage in “inappropriate behavior” (buying cigarettes.)

    If this tax DOES pass, I think it may have some very prounounced “unintended consequences” out there.

    Michael J. McFadden,
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”