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Beginnings: The Nonsmokers' Rights Movement
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The Tobacco Industry's Counterattack

On June 14, 1983, less than two weeks after Feinstein signed the ordinance, several people who described themselves as a “group of union leaders and small businessmen” announced that they were organizing a petition campaign to overturn the ordinance at the polls the following November.[19] The group was nominally chaired by Jim Foster, a gay political activist and founder of San Francisco's Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club. The Chamber of Commerce announced that it was supporting the effort to overturn the ordinance, reversing an earlier agreement with


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CNR to support the measure.[4] The campaign against the San Francisco Workplace Ordinance was initially called Californians Against Government Intrusion, but the name was changed to San Franciscans Against Government Intrusion (SFAGI), possibly because the acronym of the original name was pronounced “cagey.”[20] The group had until July 1 (thirty days from the date of passage) to collect 19,000 valid signatures for suspending the law and forcing a referendum on the November ballot. David Looman, a political consultant and SFAGI committee member, said, “The tobacco industry has been asked for contributions, but no money has been received from any tobacco firm yet.”[19]

The industry provided a substantial war chest—over a million dollars—and hired Nelson-Padberg Consulting (Eileen Padberg had been promoted to a full partnership with Robert Nelson since they had directed the Proposition 10 campaign) to run the San Francisco campaign. Over half the initial budget of $1,046,000, as of July 12, was for advertising, including direct mail, radio, and television. The money that the industry put into the campaign was only part of the effort; the cigarette companies planned to reach smokers with cigarette carton inserts or stickers and point-of-sale materials.[21] As the Nelson-Padberg campaign plan makes clear, Foster and SFAGI had very little to do with decision making for the actual campaign, all of which had been planned in July 1983.[22][23]

In order to collect over 19,000 valid signatures in the two weeks remaining before the July 1 deadline, the tobacco industry hired the Southern California firm of Bader and Associates to collect over 40,000 signatures.[24] The industry's use of paid signature-gatherers, at a cost of $40,000, made it difficult to hide the fact that the tobacco industry was financing the repeal effort.

For activists who had been involved in the campaigns for Propositions 5 and 10, the pattern over the next five months was predictable from previous industry behavior. A campaign manager would be hired to create a “grassroots” organization. The industry would then pretend that this organization was independent, vigorously denying industry involvement. In fact, the campaign would be funded by the industry and managed by the firm it had hired. When the campaign finance laws finally required disclosure of the fact that virtually all the money came from the tobacco companies, the anti-ordinance campaign would continue to assert that they were just “interested citizens” who approached the benign tobacco industry for help. As the tobacco industry has always


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done, the campaign against the ordinance would avoid discussing health dangers of secondhand smoke and focus instead on the costs of enforcement and the issue of government intrusion.[20]


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Beginnings: The Nonsmokers' Rights Movement
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