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Beating the Tobacco Industry at the Polls
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The Industry Campaign

As the Coalition was gearing up in September 1987, the tobacco industry was also moving ahead with its plans to oppose the initiative. Fairbank, Bregman, and Maullin conducted a statewide poll for the Tobacco Institute. The results were not encouraging for the industry:

In putting together a campaign on an initiative, whether for or against it, one usually looks for how the issue polarizes different segments of the population. Some of these are often in the form of Democrats vs. Republicans, men vs. women, liberals vs. conservatives, more affluent vs. less affluent. …These common voting divisions do not exist as readily on this issue. On most questions in the study there are few or no differences in the larger voting groups. …the only consistent group against the initiative is that of current smokers, who comprise just 20% of the electorate.[8]

As revealed in the industry's poll conducted six months earlier by Tarrance and Associates, the greatest vulnerabilities for the initiative appeared to be in the issues of taxation and government regulation. The most persuasive arguments against the initiative were the following: “this law would create another state bureaucracy with a large budget” (43 percent said this argument made them less likely to vote for the initiative) and “government will have more money to mismanage and waste” (41 percent said this argument made them less likely to vote for the initiative).[9]

Echoing the strategies used successfully by the tobacco industry in opposing Propositions 5 and 10, the industry's pollsters advised the “no” campaign to take this approach: Proposition 99 is a flawed solution to a real problem. They reasoned that “if the debate remains one of pro-smoking vs. anti-smoking, the American Cancer Society/Heart Association/Medical Association vs. the tobacco industry, then the measure will


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pass easily. If, however, the debate can be turned to the defects in the particular initiative, conceding the `good intentions' of the authors, then the voters may decide the issue in terms favorable to the `no' side.”[8] To win, the industry had to focus attention away from the health issue and toward the flaws in the initiative.


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Beating the Tobacco Industry at the Polls
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