A new report from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education shows that the state’s position as a leader in tobacco control is under threat.

The report, which will be published in eScholarship, reveals that though once a successful program and global model, California’s anti-tobacco efforts now appear to be waning due to the decreased spending power of the California Tobacco Control Program, the emergence of new unregulated tobacco products, and a resurgence of the tobacco industry in state politics.

The new report, the latest in a series of reports on the state dating to 1976, examines tobacco policymaking and tobacco industry political influence in California from 2007 to 2014. The report is part of a longstanding research project that tracks the effect of tobacco programs in protecting public health, with 29 states to date having been studied. The report draws from a collection of sources including media reports, lobbying reports, peer reviewed journals, interviews, and contribution data.

Despite the program’s triumphs, such as the percentage of adult smokers in California dropping from 22.7% to 12.6% from 1989 to 2012, the UCSF news release notes that the program is now smaller and less aggressive than its early years. By 2014, inflation had reduced the program’s spending power to 53% of what it was when it was established in 1989 after voters enacted Proposition 99.

Lead author of the report Elizabeth Cox says, “It’s unquestionably concerning to see that where we once were a leader we are now starting to fall behind. The resources just aren’t there anymore, and state leaders are no longer prioritizing tobacco control.”

Stanton Glantz, PhD, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, states, “The combination of weak leadership at the state level, willingness of political leaders to accept tobacco industry money, and inflation eroding the spending power of the California Tobacco Control Program are compromising its effectiveness, which will lead, even in the short term, to more smoking.”

Source: University of California, San Francisco