If there was any uncertainty whether Big Tobacco -- the nation's leading makers of cigarettes -- would let this June's statewide campaign for a tax hike slip by without an all out war... the question was answered quite definitively late Thursday.
That's when the campaign to defeat Proposition 29 reported almost $9 million in new contributions from the parent company of Philip Morris, USA and R.J. Reynolds. Add that to the companies' contribution earlier this year of $12 million, and the effort to kill a new $1-per pack tax on cigarettes is now sitting on a war chest of close to $21 million.
Prop 29, if passed by the voters two months from now, would earmark all of the new tax proceeds for cancer research. And the new campaign contribution from its opponents was made public just one day after Prop 29's backers unveiled a very personal campaign video from some longtime smokers.
Ads like this one are really the main hope of the backers of Prop 29, which most notably include cycling champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. That's because even with Armstrong's six-figure donation, they simply won't be able to go head-to-head with their opponents when it comes to campaign spending.
Keep in mind that thanks to 2011's hotly debated law to move all pending and future initiatives off the primary ballot in California, only Prop 29 and an initiative to modify legislative term limits -- Proposition 28 -- are on the June ballot.
Tonight's news seems to suggest that the TV ads you're going to see a lot of across California over the next few weeks will be ones from the tobacco companies telling to you to reject the tax increase that's at the heart of Prop 29.