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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Tobacco Control in Arizona, 1973-1997


Arizona was the first state in the US to pass a state clean indoor air law (in 1973) and has a long tradition of grass roots nonsmokers' rights activity. 38 localities in Arizona have passed tobacco control ordinances dealing with clean indoor air (Flagstaff, Mesa, Tucson, among others) and youth access to tobacco products (Tucson, Scottsdale, Somerton, among others). In 1994, Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, which increased the tobacco tax by 40 cents per pack of cigarettes and allocated 23% of the revenues for tobacco control activities, yielding more than $27 million a year for anti-tobacco efforts. It was the third state to do so. The tobacco industry, working through Governor Symington and allies in the Legislature, has successfully limited the scope of the tobacco control program to youth and pregnant women. This limitation will probably limit program effectiveness. Although the coalition of health groups that enacted Proposition 200 has prevented funds from being diverted to non-tobacco uses, it failed to force the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to develop a comprehensive tobacco control program. Arizona tobacco control advocates have made great progress at the local level, not only in passing local tobacco control ordinances, but also in defeating tobacco industry efforts to overturn these ordinances. The campaign finance and lobbying disclosure laws in Arizona are so weak that it is not possible to quantify the exact amount of money the tobacco industry is spending to influence policy making in that state, it is clear that the tobacco industry has intensified its lobbying efforts in the Legislature. The tobacco industry has focused national resources on Arizona through organizations such as the National Smokers' Alliance in unsuccessful attempts to stop or overturn local tobacco control ordinances. Despite tobacco industry claims to the contrary, local tobacco control ordinances mandating smokefree restaurants and bars have not affected revenues in those businesses.

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