previous sub-section
The End of Acquiescence
next sub-section

The Hit List

The passage of Proposition 99 and the infusion of millions of dollars into anti-tobacco education gave public health advocates in California the means to embark on a comprehensive public health program that


256
was far more aggressive than previous anti-tobacco campaigns. Instead of running cessation classes that emphasized the health effects of tobacco use, DHS and the county LLAs funded innovative programs that battled the tobacco industry in the arenas where it pushed tobacco use. For example, since the industry targeted auto racing, DHS funded a race car to carry the anti-tobacco message to the racetrack. This program disrupted tobacco industry use of auto racing as a promotional medium and led patrons to demand smoke-free areas at racetracks. A grant to the Kirkwood Ski Foundation was used to counter tobacco sponsorship of and advertising at ski events over a period of two and a half years. The project hosted athletic magnet events that included both competitions and tobacco-free presentations and ultimately displaced tobacco sponsorship. Another program sought to reach poor women by sponsoring smoke-free baby showers. According to Carol Russell, who oversaw these programs for TCS, “We're going where the companies are and they hate us for it.”[26] And the program was showing results. Tobacco use in California declined faster than it did in the rest of nation and at a rate three times faster than it had in California prior to Proposition 99.[27]

The tobacco industry peppered the program with public records act requests to collect detailed information on every aspect of Proposition 99, then used this information to prepare a “hit list” of unconventional Proposition 99 programs that distorted and ridiculed these programs.[28] Californians for Smokers' Rights (CSR), an organization fostered by RJ Reynolds and headed by Bob Merrell, objected to the programs as frivolous. He also accused the state of building and operating a “statewide political organization” that illegally spent tax dollars to lobby.[26] The CMA distributed a similar list to the Legislature and journalists.[29] And the promoters of the hit list were successful in getting their message out. Conservative San Francisco Chronicle columnist Deborah Sanders echoed the list's message with this jibe: “Pretend for a minute that you are a legislator—just for a minute, I'll try not to make this too painful. You are given a choice. You can spend $175,000 on prenatal care, or you can spend $175,000 on a `Ski Tobacco-Free' weekend at Kirkwood Meadows in Tahoe.”[30] A highly innovative, two-and-a-half-year program was, with the stroke of a pen, reduced to a boondoggle weekend. Another list made fun of some projects funded by the Research Account, such as a study of smoking and facial wrinkling in women. These lists became major tools for the tobacco industry and its allies in the 1994 reauthorization fight.


257

A similar hit list turned up in Massachusetts in 1992 and Arizona in 1994, where the tobacco industry was fighting initiatives modeled on Proposition 99.[31-35]


previous sub-section
The End of Acquiescence
next sub-section