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The Philip Morris Signature Drive

The flurry of press activity surrounding AB 13 did not extend to the Proposition 188 signature drive. Philip Morris began a quiet effort to qualify its initiative, using the Dolphin Group (which had created front groups for fighting local ordinances) to run the campaign as Californians for Statewide Smoking Restrictions (CSSR). Voters began receiving phone calls inquiring whether they would support a uniform state law restricting smoking. Respondents who answered “yes” received a packet that contained advertising materials and a copy of the petition to be signed and returned. This attractive packet, which cloaked the initiative as a pro-health measure, detailed “strict regulations” that would be implemented by the proposed law and outlined its “benefits”:

  • Completely prohibits smoking in restaurants and workplaces unless strict ventilation standards are met.
  • Replaces the crazy patchwork quilt of 270 local ordinances with a single, tough, uniform statewide law.
  • [Is] stricter than 90% of the local ordinances currently on the books.[103]

Using staff resources donated by ALA, the Coalition campaigned to keep Philip Morris from collecting enough signatures to qualify the initiative and sought resolutions from local governments that had already passed strong local tobacco control ordinances in an attempt to create debate and interest the press in covering the story. Even though the Coalition considered this strategy a long shot, any controversy created during the signature gathering might attract early press attention before the general election campaign.

The Coalition also advised voters who had signed the petition in the belief that it would promote health to complain to Acting Secretary of State Tony Miller.[104] On April 8 Miller sent a letter to the restaurant owners who had filed the petition, warning them that deceptive petitioning


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practices would not be tolerated. He later launched an investigation into CSSR's possibly fraudulent petitioning practices, stating that he would “not certify any measure for any ballot that met the signature requirement only by breaking the law.” The Coalition capitalized on Miller's actions, publicizing his warnings and simultaneously instructing voters how to request removal of their signatures from the petition (which turned out to be impossible, for all practical purposes).[105]

On May 9 CSSR submitted 607,000 signatures (385,000 valid signatures were required) to the secretary of state's office. As part of his continuing investigation, Miller asked for court permission to randomly sample the signatures to survey for fraud. The court denied permission on the grounds that it would constitute invasion of privacy.[106] On June 30 the secretary of state certified that Philip Morris had collected enough valid signatures to place the initiative on the ballot for the November 1994 election as Proposition 188.


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