By Randy Shaw
If you live in California and spend any time listening to commercial radio or television, you have heard a lot about Prop 29 on the June ballot. Or, to be more accurate, you have been inundated with commercials primarily funded by Phillip Morris Tobacco Co. against Prop 29, the California Cancer Research Act. Backed by the American Cancer Society, Prop 29 imposes a $1 excise on tobacco products that would generate $855 million for medical research on smoking-related illnesses in its first year.
It also strengthens California’s smoking prevention programs. But for the massively funded No on 29 campaign, Prop 29 is not about making Californians healthier. Instead, No on 29 is a case study for how corporations battle initiatives by associating them with generic ideas many voters hate – unfair taxes, bureaucratic decision-making, initiatives that claim to be about one thing but really do something else – so that voters will reject Prop 29 without even knowing what it is about.