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The View from outside Sacramento

The potential effect of AB 13's preemption provisions on local ordinances created controversy and confusion among local tobacco control advocates over whether to support the measure. Local coalitions, composed of people from local affiliates of the voluntary health agencies, local medical associations, departments of health, and individual activists, received inconsistent information on the state debate over AB 13 and AB 996. While opposition to AB 996 was unanimous, the state voluntary health agencies urged support of AB 13 while ANR continued to urge opposition. Many individuals who participated in these local coalitions were members of both a voluntary health agency and ANR, and so were receiving conflicting action alerts from different organizations.

Some activists at the local level questioned the effect of AB 13 on local legislation and remained skeptical that a workable bill would emerge from the Legislature.[33][56] Of special concern was how the preemption language would affect nonworkplace provisions of local ordinances (such as those mandating public education) or nonretaliation clauses (which would protect employees who complained about noncompliance with the smoke-free workplace requirement). Questions from those communities about AB 13 were interpreted by lobbyists at ALA and ACS as efforts by ANR to undermine their authority, and they complained of having to devote time and resources to respond to what they perceived as ANR's misinterpretation of the bill.[27][31] ANR saw its activities as a legitimate way to present its opposition to preemption to the people most affected.[19]

As controversy over the bill intensified and communication broke down between state players, a hostile exchange occurred, with local activists caught in the cross fire. One LLA director later described the atmosphere: “Oh my God. We were on the record of telling our coalition that it was preemptive and that it was not a good thing. And because we had had these conversations, some individuals wrote letters. I got nasty


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calls back from Friedman's office just saying, `It is not preemptive! Who told you this? That's wrong!' And they would call us. I mean these are individuals who English is not necessarily their first language who did not know how to, like, argue back. The whole process of that was real divisive.”[57] In a public demonstration of the growing conflict among former tobacco control allies, the presidents of the state voluntary health agencies and the CMA circulated a letter warning, “ANR's opposition is unsound and could have dangerous effects.”[36] This letter was a modified version of one that Friedman had written to ACS earlier, claiming that ANR authored “a shocking opposition letter which seriously distorts AB 13.”[30]


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Battles over Preemption
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