Taxing two 'sins' in California could bring in a ton of money for the state, according to analysts.
Sin taxes are put on goods that are considered harmful, like alcohol or tobacco. This year, Californians could legalize recreational marijuana and also tax the substance under Prop. 64.
Voters will also be asked whether in Prop. 56 tobacco should have a higher tax rate.
If voters approved both measures, they have the potential to bring $2 billion in tax revenue to the state, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office.
Most of the revenue would come from the $2 per pack tax on cigarettes and an equivalent bump in other tobacco products' taxes (including e-cigarettes). In 2014, the state's tobacco tax revenue was more than $800 million. The LAO estimated another $1 billion to $1.4 billion if Prop. 56 is approved.
California lawmakers recently raised the legal smoking age in the state to 21. So that, combined with already declining rates of smoking among Californians (18.6% in 1996 to 12.8% in 2014, according to the Center of Disease Control), lowers the estimated revenue increase from a bigger tobacco tax.
Meanwhile, as Californians stop smoking cigarettes, their taste for alcohol has stayed steady over the last 20 years.
A 2014 survey by the Public Policy Institute found 68% of adults are in favor of raising state taxes on purchasing alcohol, but there isn't political will in the Capitol. The Sacramento Bee reported a recent bill to impose a 5 cent tax on alcohol sold at bars and restaurants died last September, due in part to the industry's influence on lawmakers.
The proposed tobacco tax increase would still put California below the national average:
Estimated revenue raised from each state resident would go from $21 to $50. The national average is $57.
The LAO estimates additional revenue from a marijuana tax could be as much as $1 billion annually (about $26 per resident), based on what Colorado and Washington have raised and considering California's larger population size.
Where does alcohol stand? California also taxes alcohol at a lower rate than the national average, according to the PPIC. If the state doubled its tax rate on the substance, which would still put it at lower than the national average, the PPIC found California could add $350 million in revenue.