California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Gov. Brown Removes Physician in Prop. 29 Ad From Health Board

On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) removed a physician from a state health board after she appeared in an advertisement criticizing Proposition 29 that was funded by the tobacco industry, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.

The state health board, called the California Proposition 65 Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee, identifies chemicals known to cause developmental or reproductive harm (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/10).

Background on Prop. 29

Prop. 29 is a June ballot initiative that would increase the state's tobacco sales tax by $1 per pack. The current tobacco tax is 87 cents per pack. The state allocates 50 cents of that amount for First 5 early childhood health and education programs.

The ballot initiative was written by the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association.

Supporters of Prop. 29 say the tax increase would generate about $600 million annually to fund research on smoking-related conditions such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.

They note that it also would produce $179 million each year for tobacco cessation, prevention and enforcement initiatives (California Healthline, 5/9).

Ad Criticizes Prop. 29

La Donna Porter -- a San Joaquin General Hospital physician who was appointed to the toxicant identification committee in 2005 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) -- recently appeared in an ad suggesting that Prop. 29 would create a new bureaucracy and permit research funding to leave the state.

Supporters of Prop. 29 seemed upset that the ad implied that the medical community opposes Prop. 29, according to "Capitol Alert."

Response to Ad

In response to the ad, supporters on Monday called on Brown to remove Porter from the committee. On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) sent a letter to Brown saying that the governor should rescind Porter's appointment. Newsom wrote in the letter that "Porter has demonstrated close, obvious and troubling ties to the tobacco industry and its marketing tactics" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/10).

In addition, supporters of Prop. 29 this week launched three ads seeking to undermine the credibility of opposition efforts funded by tobacco companies (California Healthline, 5/9).

Along with Porter, Brown also removed five other Schwarzenegger appointees from the board, according to George Alexeeff, head of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

Gil Duran -- Brown's press secretary -- offered little explanation for the governor's actions. He did not directly reference Prop. 29. However, he said that health advocate complaints and media investigations into Porter "brought this board more attention than it usually gets" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/10).

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