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Conclusion

Proponents invested over two years to pass Proposition 99, conducting essential polling, planning strategy, gaining media exposure, developing a coalition, and running a successful campaign for enactment of the tax directly by the voters. The tobacco industry's large war chest worked for it in the campaigns against Propositions 5 and 10, but failed in the campaigns against Propositions P and 99. The popularity of using a tobacco tax to fund education and prevention programs as well as the unpopularity of the tobacco industry meant that public health activists did not have to match the tobacco industry dollar for dollar. They needed only a budget sufficient to take advantage of the tobacco industry's low credibility. Proponents of Proposition 99 effectively made the very size of the industry war chest an issue because they had enough money to publicize it. The initiative proponents had learned a lot in ten years, as had the public and the media.

In California it was clear that the industry was the enemy. What was less clear was the extent to which the CMA was also a problem. While the political and financial support of medical organizations, particularly the hospitals, helped pass the initiative, their presence in the pro-Proposition 99 camp presented a threat to public health programs. Actions and statements made by the CMA before, during, and after the tobacco tax effort showed that the CMA considered the tobacco tax solely as a source of revenue for medical services, which foreshadowed the


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subsequent pressure for diversion of funds from health education into medical services once Proposition 99 arrived at the Legislature. Although health education programs received the greatest public support during the campaign in both Coalition and Tobacco Institute polls, this support provided no guarantee that public health priorities would dominate the organizational interests of the other Coalition members. The difficulties that arose at the initiative stage were to be amplified when the issue of implementing legislation came before the California Legislature.


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Beating the Tobacco Industry at the Polls
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