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The Battle over Local Tobacco Control Ordinances
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Long Beach

The industry's stepped-up efforts were evident in the later local ordinance campaigns, such as the one in Long Beach, a major urban center. The initiation and development of Long Beach's ordinance came from the Long Beach Tobacco Control Coalition, a broad-based advisory group of civic, academic, and health leaders and staff from the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services.


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In January 1991 the coalition and the health department asked the Long Beach City Council's Quality of Life Committee to strengthen the city's existing ordinance, and the committee went on to recommend that the council adopt an ordinance that would have ended smoking in public places and the workplace, made at least two-thirds of restaurant seating nonsmoking, and restricted vending machines and billboard advertising.

The ordinance was publicly opposed by local restaurant and business owners, the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, and Rudy Cole of RSVP. (At the time, Cole denied that he was or ever had been paid by the tobacco industry.) Fred Karger of CBRA never testified publicly but attended several city council meetings with the vice president of governmental affairs for the Chamber of Commerce. Karger, at a later Quality of Life Committee meeting, even refused to answer questions from Councilman Evan Braude. Karger's dual role as chief executive officer of CBRA and executive vice president of the Dolphin Group was not widely known, nor was his association with the tobacco industry.

Despite the tobacco industry's efforts, the council exceeded the Quality of Life Committee's recommendations, stipulating that smoking would be completely ended in restaurants by 1994. After lobbying efforts failed to stop the ordinance, the tobacco industry, acting through Californians for Fair Business Policy (CFBP), initiated a referendum petition drive to suspend the ordinance. CFBP spent $87,410 on the petition drive, virtually all of which came from tobacco companies, but the level of industry involvement was not known at the time.

Controversy surrounded the petition drive and the signature gatherers. CFBP hired Kimball Petition Management to collect the necessary signatures. Complaints were reported to city officials of signature gatherers misrepresenting the content and nature of the petition drive. According to CFBP's disclosure statement, the petitioning firm employed at least eighteen signature gatherers who did not live in Long Beach. Despite the objections of health advocates to the tobacco industry's questionable tactics, enough signatures were validated to suspend the ordinance. No investigation of the allegations of misrepresentation or the use of out-of-town signature gatherers was conducted.

Validating the signatures cost Long Beach $1,861.[46] At the time, an election to decide the issue was estimated to cost Long Beach approximately $500,000; this figure was later lowered to $170,000. Rather than incur the cost, the city council rescinded the ordinance and drafted one


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acceptable to the tobacco industry. This strategy—raising the possibility of an expensive election and then withdrawing the threat when a compromise suitable to the industry was reached—was to reappear in other local ordinance campaigns. It was also one of the experiences that led Philip Morris to produce a statewide initiative, Proposition 188, in 1994.


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