Marlboro-maker Philip Morris and other top cigarette makers have paid more than $6 billion to US states under a 25-year settlement agreement.
Credit: Carsten Koall

A California ballot measure to raise the state tax on cigarettes was losing early Wednesday but still too close to call because hundreds of thousands of ballots remained uncounted.

Proposition 29 was losing by just over 1 percent, or about 64,000 votes out of more than 3.8 million counted, The Associated Press reported.

More from GlobalPost: Scott Walker wins Wisconsin recall vote

But even with all precincts reporting, late-arriving early and absentee voting ballots had yet to be counted and typically comprise up to 20 percent of all votes. That means official results may not be declared for days, the AP reported.

Based by cycling legend Lance Armstrong and the American Cancer Society, Proposition 29 would increase the state tax on cigarettes by $1 to raise money for cancer research and anti-smoking programs, the Orange County Register reported.

More from GlobalPost: New Zealand aims to be smoke-free by 2025, raises tobacco taxes

Tobacco companies poured nearly $47 million into an aggressive campaign to defeat the measure. The tax would raise an estimated $860 million a year if approved, according to the Los Angeles Times.

California voters rejected a similar ballot measure in 2006. They last raised the tobacco tax in 1998, Capital Public Radio reported.

If Proposition 29 passes, California would have the 16th highest tax rate in the nation, according to the AP.

Related Stories