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Conclusion

Until Proposition 99 passed, the voluntary health agencies had been peripheral players in Sacramento power politics. This situation changed with the passage of Proposition 99, when they suddenly became key players in a fight over how to allocate $600 million a year in new tobacco tax money, including $120 million for tobacco use prevention programs and $30 million for research. Despite the fact that they were designing the largest tobacco use prevention program in the world at a time when state resources were declining, they did not expand their lobbying staffs or enlist the support of outside technical experts. They were entering the world of hardball politics with a popular mandate but had not committed the resources necessary to protect that mandate.

In contrast, the tobacco industry had already developed a strategic plan to undo Proposition 99, with specific plans to divert funds into “acceptable” medical services for children and pregnant women. The industry had started to enlist other powerful players interested in changing the way California government was financed, including the CMA, the Western Center for Law and Poverty, and other medical interests that the voluntary health agencies hoped would work with them.


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