California Smoking Initiative, Letter 2 (of 3)



This document is the second of three, concerning a so-called "smoking initiative" presented to the California public by the tobacco lobby. It is part of our EXAMPLES IN THE ART OF COMPLAINING book.

Tony Miller
Acting Secretary of State
State of California
Sacramento CA

May 10th, 1994

Dear Mr. Miller:

I read today in the San Diego Union Tribune that your office is investigating the behavior of the group promoting the California Uniform Tobacco Control Act. I would like to add my voice to those concerned and dismayed by the behavior of this group.

I received a petition to sign from this group with a cover letter which stated that here is the petition you "promised to sign" (my italics.) I was immediately bothered by this because I would not have "promised" to sign anything I had not had a chance to read! Furthermore I was bothered by the feeling that others who get a letter like that might feel obligated to sign, simply because they thought they had promised to sign...

It started with a phone call asking if I would sign--I believe the exact words were--"an anti-smoking initiative that severely restricts smoking throughout the state." I told them that not only would I sign such I thing, but that my wife would, too. I hardly think that constitutes a "promise to sign," but even if it did, I do not think they have any right to describe their initiative as severely restricting or banning anything. I feel that they misrepresented their initiative on the phone.

Furthermore, upon receiving the initiative I nearly made the mistake of signing it! I thought I had read it carefully enough to understand it, and felt it was "a good first step." Fortunately my wife, who happens to be an Editor of a magazine and is thus, I guess, a better reader than I (and a better reader than most) saw through it and caught the words "preempts local regulations." I was shocked when I saw what I had nearly done!

I sent them the enclosed letter but have not heard anything from them in response to my query about who was funding them. I think they should be required by law to respond to that sort of request, personally.

And as if all of the above were not enough to dismay me, later on outside of the local (Carlsbad) PRICE CLUB warehouse store, a person was soliciting signatures for this very same initiative--my wife and I both recognized it as being exactly the same petition--and when we asked him about whether it was funded by the tobacco lobby (we didn't know at the time but had begun to suspect that it was) he told us that it was not!

He said there was another petition being presented by, I think he said American Tobacco Company or some such, which was to paraphrase him "sly and dishonest." He was not able to tell us who was funding his petition. We now know it is, of course, Philip Morris U.S.A. and other tobacco companies. We have not been able to learn anything about this supposed "other petition."

In conclusion I think that this petition should be rejected and not be allowed on the ballot regardless of how many signatures they gathered because of the manner in which it was presented to the voters on the telephone, the careful wording of the petition which I believe is meant to deceive, and the dishonest comments of the workers in the group--both the telephone solicitor and the person outside Price Club.

I also believe that all management-level workers in the group should be barred from presenting similar petitions in the state of California.
Russell Hoffman
cc: Jack Nicholl, Coalition for a Healthy California

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