Objectives: This investigation sought to define policy and political factors related to the undermining of Florida's successful Tobacco Pilot Program in 1999.
Methods: Data were gathered from interviews with public health lobbyists, tobacco control advocates, and state officials; news reports; and public documents.
Results: As a result of a recent legal settlement with Florida, the tobacco industry agreed to fund a youth anti-smoking pilot program. The program combined community-based interventions and advertisements. In less than 1 year, the teen smoking prevalence rate dropped from 23.3% to 20.9%. The program also enjoyed high public visibility and strong public support. Nevertheless, in 1999, the state legislature cut the program's funding from $70.5 million to $38.7 million, and the Bush administration dismantled the program's administrative structure. Voluntary health agencies failed to publicly hold specific legislators and the governor responsible for the cuts.
Conclusions: The legislature and administration succeeded in dismantling this highly visible and successful tobacco control program because pro-health forces limited their activities to behind-the-scenes lobbying and were unwilling to confront the politicians who made these decisions in a public forum.