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AB 13 and Proposition 188

For the tobacco industry, Proposition 188—which had started out as a way to finesse legislative behavior and get what the industry regarded as a good preemptive bill—had become essential after passage of AB 13. John M.


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Hager, a vice president at American Tobacco, wrote Donald S. Johnston, president and CEO, “AB 13, a virtual smoking ban, is in place for January 1 and Prop 188 is our `last chance' for reason in California.”[109]

In June 1994, before AB 13 became law, the tobacco industry commissioned a public opinion poll on Proposition 188. The poll, conducted by Voter/Consumer Research of Houston, showed that the initiative was running even among voters (43 percent for, 43 percent against). Its supporters were primarily people who wanted to strengthen smoking restrictions, and opponents were primarily smokers, people who opposed government regulation, and people who disapproved of Philip Morris's sponsorship of the measure.[110] The poll also revealed that Proposition 188 faced two other problems. The first problem was that the initiative was confusing to people (especially with tobacco control advocates and the media attacking it), and confusion leads to “no” votes. The other problem was that the industry was asking for “yes” votes, which are historically harder to get.[110] As RJ Reynolds recognized, “Since the signing of AB 13, the effect of P[roposition] 188 would be to relax restrictions. In other words, the whole electorate will probably reconfigure on this issue.”[111] Those who wanted smoking restrictions would likely shift to support the new status quo, AB 13, which meant they became “no” votes, while those who opposed Philip Morris sponsorship would stay on “no.” Only smokers and opponents to regulation would stay where they were. The only hopeful news for the tobacco industry from the poll was that while Californians preferred smoking bans to nothing, they preferred restrictions to bans, and that while tobacco sponsorship was not a plus, it was not a killer.[111]


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Battles over Preemption
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