LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Smokers in Southern California and throughout the state can finally exhale after voters appear to have rejected a proposed tax increase on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

KNX 1070’s Charles Feldman reports Proposition 29 is now projected for defeat when all the ballots are counted.

The Associated Press determined Friday that Prop. 29, backed by cycling legend Lance Armstrong, had failed by about 27,000 votes out 5 million cast.

The defeat comes after the tobacco industry spent $47 million to cut support for the $1-a-pack cigarette tax from a two-thirds majority in March to a dead heat on Election Day.

Michael Genest, a consultant to the anti-Prop 29 groups, said voters got this one right.

“They were going to create a new bureaucracy that would have no oversight by the legislature or by the governor and would essentially be able to run wild,” said Genest.

Campaign ads sponsored by tobacco companies framed the tax as a government boondoggle and warned that some of the cancer research could be done outside California.

The counting of ballots on Prop. 29 is expected to continue through July 6, after which the Secretary of State’s office will likely finalize the vote.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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