Tobacco control and direct democracy in Dade County, Florida: future implications for health advocates

J Public Health Policy. 2000;21(3):268-95.


In 1979 and 1980 in Dade County, Florida, a small grassroots advocacy group, Group Against Smoking Pollution (GASP), attempted to enact a clean indoor air ordinance through the initiative process. The tobacco industry's successful efforts to defeat the initiatives were expensive high-tech media-centered campaigns. Even though GASP's electoral resources were extremely limited for both initiatives, GASP utilized similar media-centered tactics. This approach attempted to defeat the tobacco industry in its own venue, in spite of the tobacco industry's vastly greater resources. Nevertheless, the industry defeated these ordinances by narrow margins because of broad voter support for the initiatives before the industry started its campaigns. Health advocates will never have the resources to match the tobacco industry in expensive high-tech media-centered initiative campaigns. Rather, their power lies in the general popularity of tobacco control legislation and their ability to mobilize broad grassroots efforts combined with an adequately funded media campaign.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Community Participation*
  • Florida
  • Humans
  • Lobbying
  • Mass Media
  • Politics*
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / prevention & control


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution