Lung Health Advocate Debra Kelley Takes On Tobacco – Again – Through Prop 52 (The Pulse Audio)

9/2/2016; 49 minutes

Fresh out of graduate school 30 years ago, Debra Kelley began work in San Diego for the American Lung Association. Her first assignment? To help pass a statewide initiative that would establish smoking and no-smoking areas within restaurants. Smoke-free restaurants seem so normal now. "We've come a long way, and it is so gratifying to be a part of dramatically changing social norms and saving so many lives," Kelley says.
Kelley currently has her sights on a California ballot initiative to raise the tax on cigarettes by $2 a pack. The tobacco industry spent more than $100 million to defeat the last initiative, Kelley says. To take on this foe, as well as others she's faced as director of advocacy at the nonprofit, Kelley describes drawing on a "deep understanding of the political system," much-in-demand grant writing skills, a comfort with budgets and spreadsheets, as well as ease in public speaking she developed over time.

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