CALIFORNIA: HEALTH OFFICIALS SAY THEY FALSIFIED INFO
Two California health officials said "they were pressured toThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
'falsify information' in 1992 so the Wilson [R] administration
could claim that a controversial state anti-smoking education
program wasn't working," SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER reports. Gov.
Pete Wilson (R) "ordered the ad campaign shutdown as part of a
plan to divert some $30 million in funds from the cigarette tax,
enacted by the voters as the Prop. 99 anti-smoking initiative, to
close a budget deficit." At the same time, a study by the state
Department of Health Services found that the program was
"actually causing a sharp decline in cigarette consumption in
California." According to documents obtained by Americans for
Non-Smokers Rights, "state tobacco control officials then came
under pressure to provide scientific backup so then-Health
Secretary Molly Joel Coye could claim -- despite her department's
own study -- that the Prop. 99 programs were ineffective."
MEMOS: Americans for Non-Smokers Rights' Julia Carol said,
"We have long felt from watching from the outside that the Wilson
administration has been trying to sabotage the program." Dr.
Michael Johnson, chief analyst of the tobacco control section of
the health department, wrote in 1992, "I will not ever falsify
information or communicate results I cannot stand by. I hope
that something can be done very soon to stop this falsification
of results." Jacquolyn Duerr, then supervisor of the tobacco
media campaign wrote to her boss, Dr. Dileep Bal, "I want you to
know that this is some of the most unprofessional behavior I have
experienced in my state service tenure." She also wrote that
Betsy Hite, press aide to Coye, "said that despite the study, the
department's position would be that 'this decline (in smoking)
did not have anything to do with Prop. 99 or the programs.'"
Duerr wrote, "[Hite] said, 'You have to back me up on this.' I
explained that the facts contradicted this and that we could not
say there was no effect from the tobacco tax and the media
campaign. ... Betsy began screaming and slammed the telephone
TOO MUCH TV: Wilson Press Secretary Sean Walsh said the
"tobacco extremists" had been "watching too many episodes of 'The
X Files.'" He "said the activists were 'wrong' to 'dredge up
these memos from the bowels of the bureaucracy and draw a
straight line to the governor's office.'" He added, "There's
been no effort on the part of the governor's office to undermine
or otherwise impede the efforts of the tobacco education
campaign." EXAMINER notes that the advertising campaign had been
suspended, but that it has been reinstated. Earlier this month,
state Sen. Quentin Kopp (I) accused the health department of
"refusing to screen a new series of tough anti-smoking ads." He
said, "I suspect the department does not want to be too tough on
the tobacco companies" (Williams, 12/21).