A Case Study in Advocacy Through Public Education: How the Public Media Center Used Facts to Counter Tobacco Industry Politics

W.K. Kellogg Foundation



Case Study Sector


In the late 1980s, the California tobacco industry spent $18 million in support of a ballot initiative known as Proposition 188 that sought to replace the tough local ordinances restricting smoking in public places with a weak state law.

With a $4 million grant from the California Wellness Foundation, the Public Media Center, a nonprofit communications and advocacy agency, launched a public education campaign with highly visible television, radio, and full-page newspaper ads that carried the banner, “Who supports Proposition 188—you have a right to know.” Ad copy under the banner merely listed major contributors to both sides.

Both the California Wellness Foundation and the Public Media Center were careful to adhere strictly to federal regulations. Further, the Public Media Center went the extra mile by running all ad copy by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, and the foundation took no part in the campaign after it was funded.



  • Evaluation
  • Field Building


  • Northern America

Blog Posts


Nov 13

Join Professor Joel Fleishman and the President and CEO of Foundation for the Carolinas, Michael Marsicano - for the Foundation Impact Research Gro