Non-Smoker Protection Committee
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
The Non-Smoker Protection Committee is a front group partly-funded by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) that backed a November 2006 ballot initiative called the "Arizona Non-Smoker Protection Act" that would have "allow[ed] smoking in all bars and some restaurants statewide, overturn smoking bans and restrict and prohibit cities from adopting strict smoking bans in the future.
A statement filed by the group with the Arizona Secretary of State in support of its proposed initiative states:
- "The Arizona Non-Smoker Protection Act creates a balanced, reasonable, consistent, statewide non-smoking law, protecting minors and preserving private property rights. The Act will not raise taxes or create new government programs. The Act would prohibit smoking in enclosed public places and places of employment, except bars and tobacco shops. Minors are not permitted in any part of a bar or tobacco shop that permits smoking. Signs must notify patrons and employees where smoking is permitted. If part of a larger business, the bars and tobacco shops must be separated by floor to ceiling partitions and separate ventilation systems." 
RJR has contributed $10,000 to Non-Smoker Protection Committee. The initiative would overturn existing smoking bans in cities such as Tempe and would prevent other cities from instituting them. Dr. Leland Fairbanks, a retired doctor, told Associated Press that the name of the tobacco-friendly proposal has fooled some people into signing the petition supporting the initiative being placed on the ballot. "There's a lot of deception going on," Fairbanks said. "Many people think they're signing the health one, but they're signing the R.J. Reynolds one. They're mad, and they should be." Tobacco control groups are proposing an alternative initiative, the Smoke-Free Arizona Act. 
In July 2006 Associated Press the Non-Smoker Protection Committee was one of four campaigns RJR was spending approximately $40 million on to defeat anti-smoking measures. Others include Smoke Less Ohio and campaigns in California and Missouri. 
The strategy used by the Non-Smoker Protection Committee, namely placing a weaker measure on a ballot that is designed to confuse voters and derail a stronger initiative, was also used in Florida in 2002. After a strong smoke-free initiative brought by an Orlando group called Smoke-free for Health appeared bound for the ballot, a front group appeared called the Committee for Responsible Solutions that was backed financially by Philip Morris. The tobacco-financed group placed a weaker smoking measure on the ballot intended to derail the stronger smoke-free initiative brought by the Orlando-based tobacco control group. The Committee for Responsible Solutions was headed by Tom Slade, a former Florida Republican Party chair-turned-lobbyist.
Arizona Non-Smoker Protection Committee
PO Box 1145, Phoenix, AZ 85001
- Join Together news summaryTobacco Company Jumps into Arizona Smokefree Battle June 5, 2006. Accessed March 25, 2008
- Kennedy J, Orlando Sentinel Tobacco goes on offensive Feburary 6, 2002. Bates No. 2085763617A/3618
- Mary Jo Pitzl, "Liquor group pushes measure to limit smoking: Wants ban on ballot in November", The Arizona Republic, May. 26, 2006.
- J. Craig Anderson, "Bid for smoking ban faces opposition", East Valley Tribune, June 2, 2006.
- Mary Jo Pitzl, "Tobacco joins anti-smoking drive", The Arizona Republic, June 1, 2006.
- "R.J. Reynolds behind push to water down Arizona smoking ban", Charlotte Observer, June 12, 2006. (This is an Associated Press story).
- Steve Hartsoe, "Firm tries to snuff out smoking bans: Cigarette maker Reynolds American plans to spend $40 million to fight anti-tobacco measures on Nov. ballots", The Detroit News, July 28, 2006.
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