California as a model

J Clin Oncol. 2001 Sep 15;19(18 Suppl):69S-73S.


One of every three persons who starts smoking falls ill and dies prematurely because he or she smoked. Smoking has been causally linked to heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases and continues to be the number one preventable cause of death in this country. To prevent these deaths and the incidence of these diseases, California's Tobacco Control Program was established in 1989 specifically to reduce tobacco use in the state. The strategy of the program is to "denormalize" tobacco. This strategy emphasizes three areas of programmatic activity: to counter pro-tobacco influences, to reduce exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, and to reduce access to tobacco products, with a focus on both social and commercial sources. A fourth priority area, cessation, is considered more of an outcome. California's Tobacco Control Program has touched the life of every Californian. Adult smoking prevalence in the state has gone from approximately 11% lower than the rest of the nation in 1988 to 20% lower in 1996. There are now approximately one million fewer smokers in California than would have been expected. Overall, per capita cigarette consumption has fallen by more than 50%. Seventy percent of adult smokers reported that they tried to quit in the last year. Exposure to secondhand smoke has plummeted. California's lung and bronchus cancer incidence is already declining at a significantly higher rate than that seen elsewhere in the nation. Youth smoking rates have also declined significantly. However, contrary to the message of its massive public relations campaign, the tobacco industry has not changed its stripes after the national tobacco settlement. They are still aggressively marketing their products to teenagers, ethnic minority groups, and young adults. They need to be combatted with renewed vigor by a vigilant health community.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • California
  • Female
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mass Media*
  • Middle Aged
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Program Evaluation
  • Public Health*
  • Public Relations
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Tobacco Industry