TOBACCO: Glantz Accuses Wilson Appointees of Gutting Anti-smoking Campaign
The University of California-San Francisco's Dr. Stan Glantz, a leading anti-tobacco advocate and member of the state Tobacco Education and Research Oversight Committee, "is accusing" Gov. Pete Wilson's "appointees of sabotaging the highly successful $30 million-a-year advertising program against tobacco use authorized by California voters," the San Francisco Examiner reports. Glantz, who testified yesterday before the state Senate Budget Committee, said, "At one point cigarette smoking was dropping in California faster than anywhere else in the world, but since they watered down the program, that's stopped." Glantz and other anti-smoking advocates "have been sparring with the Wilson administration" over the funds generated for anti-tobacco programs through California's Proposition 99, which was enacted 10 years ago to increase "the tax on cigarettes by 25 cents per pack" in order to generate funds to be "spent on anti-tobacco research and education."
The Ad Approach
The Examiner reports that the "Health Department began funding a series of bare-knuckled print, billboard and TV ads that portrayed the hazards of smoking in the harshest terms," as part of the effort to decrease the state's cigarette consumption. But Tobacco companies likened "the ads to Nazi propaganda" and one 1990 TV advertisement was "so rough" that "most stations wouldn't air it." Now all ads "must be reviewed by Sandra Smoley, secretary of the state's Health and Welfare department and a Wilson appointee." According to Glantz, "when the Wilson administration adopted new review guidelines in 1994, they took the teeth out" of the program. Glantz said, "It used to be a very freewheeling aggressive program. ... but that has changed. They simply refuse to carry ads that take on the tobacco industry." Smoley, in defense, wrote in a letter to the American Cancer Society, which said: "I am disturbed to hear of your continued accusations that we are defenders of the tobacco interests at the expense of public health. I especially wish to take issue with your assertion that the administration has somehow undermined California's successful anti-tobacco media campaign." And in response to pulling ads from billboards, Smoley wrote, "My concern ... is for the health of all Californians. This cause is not helped by use of public funds to attack a legal [tobacco] industry."
Cigarette Consumption Plateau
The Examiner reports that in the early 1990s, when the anti-tobacco advertisements were at their most "aggressive," there was a "sharp decline in cigarette consumption in California" and the anti-smoking campaign "had cut the number of smokers in California by 17% in three years," but "that decrease has since leveled off" (Zamora, 5/4).