Cigarette smoking continues to be the leading preventable cause of death in California and the United States. Although substantial progress has been made over the past 25 years, there is growing recognition of the need for large-scale efforts to reduce tobacco use. Given their central roles in implementing public health programs and their ability to reach many of the groups most at risk of tobacco use uptake and tobacco-related disease, state health agencies have an important challenge before them. This article describes the development and operation of a statewide, publicly funded anti-tobacco use campaign currently undertaken by the California Department of Health Services under the auspices of the state's Tobacco Tax and Health Promotion Act of 1988 (Proposition 99), which increased excise taxes on cigarettes by 25 cents per pack sold in the state. A discussion of problems in implementation and operation being incurred may be relevant to the planning of similar campaigns elsewhere.
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