To prepare a history of the passage and early implementation of Ballot Measure 44, “An Act to Support the Oregon Health Plan”, and tobacco control policymaking in Oregon. Measure 44 raised cigarette taxes in Oregon by US$0.30 per pack, and dedicated 10% of the revenues to tobacco control.
Data were gathered from interviews with members of the Committee to Support the Oregon Health Plan, Measure 44’s campaign committee, as well as with state and local officials, and tobacco control advocates. Additional information was obtained from public documents, internal memoranda, and news reports.
Although the tobacco industry outspent Measure 44’s supporters 7 to 1, the initiative passed with 56% of the vote. Even before the election, tobacco control advocates were working to develop an implementation plan for the tobacco control programme. They mounted a successful lobbying campaign to see that the legislature did not divert tobacco control funds to other uses. They also stopped industry efforts to limit the scope of the programme. The one shortcoming of the tobacco control forces was not getting involved in planning the initiative early enough to influence the amount of money that was devoted to tobacco control. Although public health groups provided 37% of the money it cost to pass Measure 44, only 10% of revenues were devoted to tobacco control.
Proactive planning and aggressive implementation can secure passage of tobacco control initiatives and see that the associated implementing legislation follows good public health practice.