Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong said today that his LIVESTRONG Foundation is making a $1.5 million contribution to support a June ballot measure that would increase the state tobacco tax to raise money for cancer research and anti-smoking programs.
Armstrong, a cancer survivor, previously supported the drive to qualify Proposition 29 for the ballot. He said the measure "will save lives, stop kids from smoking" and support the search for cancer cures.
"We feel that it's worth every penny," he said of the proposed $1-a-pack tax hike.
Backers of the June ballot measure include the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association.
The Proposition 29 campaign is expected to be a multimillion dollar fight. A campaign committee created to oppose the measure reported $2.67 million in contributions in 2011, all from tobacco company Philip Morris USA and its parent company Altria. A committee to support the measure reported raising $1.39 million in the same period.
California Taxpayers Association President Teresa Casazza, who is part of the opposition coalition, responded to the donation news in a statement saying "now is not the time for Lance Armstrong to come into our state and ask us to support a flawed measure like Prop. 29."
Editor's note: This post was updated at 10:45 a.m. with a statement from Casazza.
PHOTO CREDIT: Lance Armstrong looks out at the fans prior to the start of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California in Nevada City on Sunday. Jose Luis Villegas, Sacramento Bee.