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Early Postures

Legislative activity surrounding Proposition 99 began in the fall of 1990 with the formation of a steering committee of the organizations that had been most interested in AB 75, including the voluntaries, the CMA, California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (CAHHS), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Western Center for Law and Poverty, and others. The committee was to provide a forum for the groups to communicate with each other about new legislation. According to American Lung Association (ALA) lobbyist Tony Najera and Senator Watson's chief of staff, John Miller, the steering committee and Assembly Member Phil Isenberg (D-Sacramento), who had chaired the Conference Committee that wrote AB 75, agreed to extend the existing programs and distribution formulas without substantive changes, to share pro rata in the 14-18 percent reduction in revenues, and to minimize conflicts and press for fast-track passage of legislation authorizing the Proposition 99 programs by March 1991.[7] In light of the political deal that the public health advocates had made to ensure AB 75's passage as well as the newness of the programs, this was not an unreasonable position. The debate was becoming simply how to divide up another pie in Sacramento.

On January 7, 1991, the three voluntaries, the CMA, CAHHS, SEIU, Western Center for Law and Poverty, and other interested parties wrote to Isenberg and the other members of the Conference Committee, urging them to extend the provisions of AB 75:

Our organizations have worked together through-out the implementation phases of AB 75 to assure that legislative policy objectives are being achieved. We now join in urging your support for a three year extension of the provisions of AB 75, as contained in AB 99 (Legislative Session 1991-92), in order to assure the continuation of the programs and services that are funded with these tobacco tax proceeds. In order to secure a stable and efficient administration at both the state and local level, it is critical to obtain an extension of the provisions of AB 75 well in advance of the sunset date.[8]

This reauthorization strategy meant that if everyone played by the rules, then programmatic issues related to the allocation of money would not be raised, including the issue of using the Health Education Account to fund CHDP. The health groups felt that this was the best strategy to avoid further erosion in funding of anti-tobacco education because it would not force them to defend the efficacy of the Tobacco Control Program, which was just building steam. They did not want to appropriate


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Health Education Account money in a bill separate from the medical service accounts because doing so would isolate funding for the anti-tobacco program and make it a better target for the tobacco industry and its allies.[9]

The public health groups honored their side of the agreement, although it meant accepting the continued diversion of funds from the Health Education Account into medical services. The Tobacco Education Oversight Committee (TEOC), the committee created by the Legislature to provide advice about Proposition 99 implementation, supported using Health Education Account money for CHDP. TEOC's position was articulated through statements by its chair, Carolyn Martin, a volunteer with ALA, and Jennie Cook, a volunteer with ACS. At a January 23 press conference, Martin described the activities funded by the Health Education Account, including CHDP: “The prevention message is reaching every group targeted by the enabling legislation (AB 75) in settings as diverse as fast food restaurants, clinic waiting rooms and half time at the Chargers-49ers exhibition game.”[10] Jennie Cook explicitly justified the use of Health Education Account funds for medical services: “Pregnant women who smoke become parents who smoke around their young children causing increased respiratory illness, ear infections, and reduced growth. Education efforts have begun in many prenatal care settings and maternal and child health programs.”[10] No one was willing to question whether CHDP should continue to receive funding from the Health Education Account.


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