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Conclusion

Several factors contributed to the success of the health groups in 1996. While differing in tone and style, they all expanded the scope of the conflict beyond the Legislature and governor to include the general public. They also returned to the principled position of respecting the will of the voters rather than simply treating Proposition 99 as a fight over money. As a result, the media paid much closer attention to the Proposition 99 allocations than they had in the past.

Other things had changed. The California Medical Association was no longer pushing for diversions. The state's fiscal picture had improved. Repeated lawsuits had found the diversions illegal. The governor was linked to the tobacco industry in a year when such linkage was particularly embarrassing. The tobacco industry was an increasingly less desirable ally. The Legislature had changed from a Democratic body, heavily controlled by Willie Brown, a very strong ally of the tobacco industry, to one in which the Assembly was Republican and the Senate was Democratic. At the same time, the tobacco industry became increasingly partisan in its campaign contributions, which reduced the allegiance that Democrats felt toward the industry. The extent of the industry's clout in California policy making had changed dramatically since 1978 when Peter Hanauer and Paul Loveday launched Proposition 5.

For tobacco control advocates trying to defend citizen initiatives in legislatures, the challenge is to exercise vigilance and to use their greatest source of power—public opinion. When asked what tobacco control advocates did differently in 1996, Isenberg said, “They just screamed bloody murder. You know, the old oil, squeaky wheel analogy is not a bad one in all of this.”[22]

Even with full funding, however, the tobacco education programs had to be implemented by public agencies, so the governor and his appointees were still in charge of most of the Health Education Account. After all, in its first analysis of how to reduce the effectiveness of the Proposition 99 media campaign back in April 1990, the Tobacco Institute had identified influencing the administration as a way to neutralize the program.[62] Thanks to the leadership of Ken Kizer (director of DHS in the Deukmejian administration) and Governor Deukmejian's willingness to take a hands-off position regarding the Proposition 99 programs, the industry had at first been unable to apply this strategy. But times and people changed, and the Wilson administration had already demonstrated a willingness to impose political restrictions on the scope and content of the anti-tobacco program. With full funding of the Health Education Account in hand, tobacco control advocates could turn their attention to program implementation.

It is possible to spend a large amount of money on an ineffective campaign, and the Wilson administration did precisely that.


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