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Battles over Preemption
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The Tobacco Industry's Response: AB 996

The tobacco industry pursued three major strategies to counter AB 13. First, working through its front groups (including the Southern California Business Association) and the California Manufacturers Association


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(of which Philip Morris was a member), it lobbied against the bill on the grounds that AB 13 would be detrimental to California business.[39] Second, the tobacco industry tried to have the bill amended to weaken the smoking restrictions while maintaining the preemption, as ANR feared and as it had done successfully in other states.[39][48] Third, the tobacco industry proposed a weak law to compete with AB 13 that would preempt local regulation of smoking.

On April 19, 1993, Assembly Member Curtis Tucker (D-Inglewood) amended an unrelated bill, AB 996, to preempt all future tobacco control laws. AB 996 permitted smoking in workplaces when employers met the ventilation standard defined by Standard 62-1989 of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), although the ASHRAE standard stated that it was not strict enough to protect workers from secondhand smoke.[49] The use of the ASHRAE standard, while sounding official, was already incorporated into most building codes in the state and would have had little effect on restricting smoking in the workplace. The tobacco industry has heavily influenced ASHRAE over the years.[50]

The tobacco industry also used AB 996 to preempt emerging local ordinances restricting youth access to cigarette vending machines. Rather than eliminating vending machines as health advocates wanted, AB 996 proposed electronic locking devices that had proven ineffective in controlling youth access.[51][52] AB 996 was assigned to the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization, chaired by Tucker, where it passed by a 9-0 vote. The bill was then referred to the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means, where AB 13 was also being considered.

AB 996 was supported by the tobacco industry and its allies in the business community; it was opposed by the same coalition of health, local government, and business groups that supported AB 13 in addition to those who opposed AB 13 because of its preemption clause.[53] The CRA opposed AB 996 because, in protecting current local clean indoor air laws with a grandfather clause, it would not lead to a uniform smoking policy around the state. The CRA also feared that it would not protect restaurant owners from lawsuits and that the ASHRAE ventilation standards would be prohibitively expensive for small restaurants.[22]

The introduction of AB 996 changed the debate over state smoking restrictions. Prior to AB 996's emergence as a competing bill to AB 13, media coverage of AB 13 included the debate among tobacco control advocates over the merits of AB 13, particularly ANR's concern with preemption. When AB 996 started moving in tandem with AB 13, media coverage


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framed the debate as a good bill (AB 13) versus a bad bill (AB 996). Supporters of AB 13 were successful in garnering support for AB 13 and opposition to AB 996 from editorial boards throughout the state. The fact that AB 996 preempted future local ordinances was an important point in rallying public opposition to the bill.[54][55] Newspapers described AB 996 as a bill whose real purpose was to prevent local communities from approving their own tough anti-smoking ordinances.


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Battles over Preemption
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