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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Undermining Popular Government: Tobacco Industry Political Expenditures in California 1993-1994


The tobacco industry's total political expenditures in California increased during the 1994 election to $24,662,674 compared with $7,645,519 spent during the 1992 election.

Compared to the 1992 election, the tobacco industry contributions to the legislature and to political parties and committees decreased to $723,542 and $117,800 respectively, whereas lobbying expenditures increased to $4,198,077.

Thirty current members of the Legislature (7 veterans and 23 freshmen) have never received tobacco industry money.

The top recipient of tobacco industry money in California Legislature is Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (and committees he controls), who received $152,975 in 1994, for a total of $659,492 since 1980.

Tobacco industry contributions appeared to shift away from Democrats to Republicans; contributions to Democratic legislative officeholders and candidates decreased 37% between 1992 and 1994, while contributions to Republican officeholders and candidates increased 5.7%.

Tobacco industry support for candidates challenging incumbents shifted to Republicans. In 1994, the tobacco industry supported 7 challengers, all of whom were Republicans, with contributions totaling $128,000. This pattern contrasts with the 1992 election, when it supported 8 challengers, 6 of whom were Democrats, with contributions totaling $4,424.

The industry raised $18.9 million trying to pass Proposition 188. By defeating Proposition 188, California voters showed their strong and continuing support for tobacco control.

Proposition 188 was essentially the same as Assembly Bill (AB 996), which passed the Assembly in 1993. A comparison of Assembly member votes on AB 996 with Assembly district votes on Proposition 188 shows that 41 members of the Assembly voted against the views of their constituents while 35 voted with their constituents.

The implementation of Proposition 99's tobacco education program has cost the tobacco industry approximately 1.57 billion packs of cigarettes not sold, worth $2.1 billion in lost sales through June 30, 1994.

Assembly Bill 816, which was the budget bill for Proposition 99 programs in the 1994-1995 fiscal year, reduced funding for tobacco education to 13.3% and the Research Account to 0.8%. These appropriations failed to meet the voter mandated 20% and 5% respectively. This failure to fully fund the Health Education programs can be expected to lead to 234 million additional packs of cigarettes being smoked.

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society, filed and won a law suit, to end the diversion of Proposition 99 funds from tobacco education and research programs to medical care; Governor Wilson is appealing.

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