previous sub-section
The Battle over Local Tobacco Control Ordinances
next sub-section


While the battle in Lodi was taking place, both Sacramento and Sacramento County enacted strong ordinances ending smoking in all public and private workplaces and in all public places, including restaurants.

The most significant factor in Sacramento's success was the strong connection between the American Lung Association of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails and community leaders. The Sacramento ALA had recruited influential civic leaders from various backgrounds to serve on

its thirty-five-member board of directors. It was no coincidence that a county supervisor, a city council member, and the chair of the Environmental Commission—individuals who were instrumental in passing the ordinance—had served as volunteers or staff members of Sacramento ALA. Commission chairman Rob McCray, an attorney and former ALA volunteer, appointed a task force that included the local chapters of the three voluntary health agencies (ALA, AHA, and ACS), the Sacramento Restaurant Association (a bona fide organization of restaurants), the Chamber of Commerce (one representative from a small business and one from a large business), Arco Arena (the indoor sports arena), Pacific Gas & Electric (a major employer), and the airport.

The health advocates on the task force successfully pushed to recommend a total smoke-free policy in the workplace. They also wanted to increase the percentage of nonsmoking seats in restaurants from a minimum of 10 percent (under the previous ordinance) to 50 percent. The task force recommendations went to the Environmental Commission, which held public hearings on the recommendations. Significantly, the Chamber of Commerce, an organization representing 2,600 local businesses, endorsed the recommendations.

At the hearing before the County Board of Supervisors, the tobacco industry flew in its “expert witnesses” who frequently testify before legislative bodies. Among those out-of-towners testifying against the ordinance were Gray Robertson of Fairfax, Virginia, a tobacco industry “consultant” who had been set up in a series of businesses by Philip Morris to play down secondhand tobacco smoke as a significant cause of indoor air pollution;[26] David Weeks, a physician from Boise, Idaho; Malinda Sidak, an attorney from Covington and Burling in Washington, sent to represent the Tobacco Institute; and John C. Fox, an attorney from San Francisco.

County Supervisor Sandra Smoley, a registered nurse and ACS volunteer, voted against the ordinance. (Smoley had accepted a $250 contribution from the tobacco industry in 1988.[28]) Echoing the tobacco industry, Smoley said that if the county approved such stringent measures against smoking, then it should also “outlaw alcohol and fatty foods and mandate that everyone ride their bikes.”[29] On October 2, 1990, despite the industry's efforts, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors passed the ordinance on a 3-2 vote, making all workplaces and most public places smoke free. Restaurants were to become smoke free with a three-year phase-in period; bars were exempted. A week later, on October

9, the Sacramento City Council passed a nearly identical ordinance by a vote of 8-1. The only difference was the phase-in time for restaurants to become smoke free. For the county, the period was three years, for the city, eighteen months.

The tobacco industry did not give up.

On October 3, the same day that the County Board of Supervisors passed the ordinance, the Tobacco Institute loaned $20,000 to a referendum campaign committee that had not yet formed.[30] On October 5, three days after the county vote and prior to the city council vote, Sacramentans for Fair Business Policy (SFBP) filed a statement of organization to force a referendum on the smoking ordinances. Tim Pueyo, the San Francisco political consultant for RJ Reynolds, was hired to run the campaign for SFBP. The same day, the company contributed almost half of its total contribution of $134,000. The other four major domestic cigarette manufacturers at the time, American Brands, Philip Morris, Lorillard, and Brown and Williamson, had all contributed thousands of dollars by the end of October. As of December 31, 1990, SFBP had received $375,971 in cash, loans, and services, only $9,150 (2.4 percent) of which came from nontobacco interests, mostly restaurants. As in past campaigns, the tobacco companies' contributions to the referendum effort were in proportion to their market shares.[31]

In Sacramento SFBP hired Nielsen, Merksamer, the tobacco industry's usual law firm in California, to fulfill legal obligations. Within two weeks, SFBP was using the tobacco money to distribute referendum petitions through the mail. Despite being organized and funded by outof-state tobacco companies, throughout the campaign SFBP posed as a local independent organization. On November 1 Pueyo told the Sacramento Bee that his organization “is a grassroots coalition of business operators and individuals who oppose government sticking its nose in our business.”[32]

The county required 30,433 signatures and the city required 19,334 to force referenda. Most of the tobacco money went to a Sacramento company specializing in petition drives. Of the approximately 60,000 signatures submitted to the county, enough were valid to force a referendum. Of the 31,135 signatures submitted to the city, not enough were valid to meet the minimum requirement. Therefore, the county ordinance was delayed until the next countywide election in 1992, which gave the tobacco industry another chance to overturn it. The city's ordinance went into effect on December 14, 1990.

previous sub-section
The Battle over Local Tobacco Control Ordinances
next sub-section