previous sub-section
Introduction
next section

Conclusion

The California experience shows that it is possible to dramatically change how people think about tobacco and the tobacco industry and rapidly reduce tobacco consumption. Based on the initial results of the program, the state was on its way to reducing tobacco consumption by 75 percent in just ten years.[20-22] The California story shows that it is possible to run such programs successfully as long as the public health community exerts power effectively. It also shows that it is possible for the tobacco industry and its political allies to weaken or destroy these programs when the public health community is timid. The tobacco industry, faced with losing billions of dollars in sales, is highly motivated and aggressive. The controlling factor in the outcome is whether the public health community is willing to directly confront this reality and devote the organizational resources—both financial and political—to beating the tobacco industry. Victory is possible but not easy, and it requires constant, determined vigilance.

While Proposition 99 passed in 1988, it had its origins over a decade earlier, in the emergence of the nonsmokers' rights movement. In contrast to the large voluntary health organizations, the grassroots advocates of nonsmokers' rights saw political and policy interventions as the key to doing something about tobacco. Rather than convincing one person at


6
a time to stop smoking, they fought to enact laws requiring smoke-free workplaces, public places, and restaurants.[23][24] Their efforts brought about systemic, environmental changes that had an impact on how citizens viewed the tobacco industry and their rights as nonsmokers. They made smoke-free bars not only possible but reasonable.

The California story begins with them.


previous sub-section
Introduction
next section