Californians are leaning toward approving a $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes. That's a no-brainer, since most of us don't smoke, and laws about lighting up in public have been getting more and more draconian.

But a funny thing happened on the way to November.

Support for this new tax, proposed under Prop. 29, is starting to burn out.

And we think we know why:

Commercials being run recently by Big Tobacco backers say there's no guarantee that the tax money will be spent in-state, and that Big Government bureaucracy would have to be expanded in order to handle the influx of money.

Seems to be changing minds (which shows you why ad dollars are all-powerful in politics).

The latest Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll, released last night, says support for the tax is down 14 points since March.

Still, 53 percent of likely voters would back it, according to the data. Forty-two percent say no and 5 percent are undecided.

At one point Prop. 29 enjoyed support among 67 percent of voters — a sure thing. Now it's on the fence.

Strangely, when confronted with the more abstract concept of increasing taxes on cigarettes, California voters said yes at a rate of 63 percent to 33 percent no.

PPIC CEO Mark Baldassare:

The large drop in support for Proposition 29 speaks loudly about how a well-funded opposition is able to raise voters' doubts and distrust in state government, even when a tax increase is viewed favorably.

[@dennisjromero / / @LAWeeklyNews]

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