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Restrictions on Tobacco Education Funds

July 07, 1996

* Re "Pringle Targets Anti-Tobacco Research Ads," June 27:

The tobacco industry's political influence is all too apparent in this latest attempt to undermine the Prop. 99 anti-smoking programs. Although we are pleased that the budget conference committee adopted full funding for Prop. 99 anti-smoking programs, Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle's proposed changes in the tobacco education media campaign would stifle the most powerful media messages, which have proven to be the most effective tools in curbing smoking rates. Any reference to the tobacco industry would be prohibited. He has also proposed restrictions in Prop. 99-funded research that would block research relative to the tobacco industry's political activities and contributions, and proposed shifting the role of scientific peer review for Prop. 99 research programs to a politically appointed panel.

We believe the proposed changes are completely unjustified and detrimental to the nation's most effective tobacco-education and research programs.

ALLAN K. JONAS, Chair

Los Angeles Regional Council

American Cancer Society

Los Angeles

* Aldous Huxley once said that "facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored," but that hasn't stopped The Times from trying. Your June 28 editorial's attack on my efforts to focus Prop. 99 funding toward anti-smoking education is a case in point.

For the first time ever, Prop. 99 tobacco education and research programs are being fully funded--due in no small part to my efforts. Regarding the anti-smoking campaign, the budget language I inserted reads as follows: "Media efforts under this part shall focus solely on the health and personal social implications of tobacco use, the health and personal social implications of refraining from tobacco use, and the health and social implications of secondhand smoke on nonsmokers, including infants and small children."

As for the allegation I'm trying to shut down the research of Dr. Stanton Glantz: nonsense. Here is the language that is causing The Times distress: "These funds may not be used to support research or other activities of a partisan political nature."

I have proposed this language for very simple reasons. I happen to believe anti-smoking education funds should be spent educating people about the health effects of smoking. I do not believe it consistent with the ethic of free government for public money to be spent attacking a legal industry. I hope readers can see why I prefer to concentrate dwindling anti-smoking funds on educating teenagers and adults about the harmful effects of smoking.

CURT PRINGLE

Speaker of the Assembly

R-Garden Grove

Sacramento

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