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A Project Update From The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project

December/January 2004

The Tobacco Prevention Coalition, Project staff and community partners will begin an assessment and planning process for the new 2004-07 Scope of Work in January. A workgroup will begin by looking at what Contra Costa has done well and what could be better in tobacco prevention policies, enforcement and services in the county. The next step will involve prioritizing the needs for funding through the state Prop 99 cigarette tax funds. Contact Denice Dennis at 925-313-6825 for more information or to participate in the planning process.

How's this for having a long-lasting impact? In 2000, Dear Abby featured Tobacco Coalition member Laurie Comstock's letter describing how smoking killed her sister at age 45. For Great American Smokeout this year, the advice column printed a letter from Lydia Eldredge in Pocatello, Idaho, thanking Laurie and calling her a "big part of my life." Lydia credited Laurie's letter with helping her stop smoking. Excerpts from Laurie's letter were included, asking readers to help spread the word about the dangers of smoking.

The Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County is the recipient of a reimbursement award from the Tobacco Prevention Project. The Center will be working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth to identify the ways in which the tobacco industry targets this group through film and print media, and to explore policy options to counter the targeting of LGBTQ youth. Call Ken Levin at 925-692-0090 for more information.

AB 846, the state's new outdoor smoking law, goes into effect on January 1, 2004. The law bans smoking outdoors within 20 feet of doors and operable windows of government buildings - those that are leased or owned by cities, counties and the state. The Tobacco Prevention Project has a prototype of the official sign and stickers for glass windows and doors. Call 925-313-6214 for more information about the law and to order signage.

The Acalanes Drug/Alcohol Task Force Update reported recently that Hollywood's Joe Eszterhas admits responsibility for the harm done by placing tobacco in 15 films he wrote, directed and/or produced, including Flashdance, Jagged Edge, and Basic Instinct. Now suffering from throat cancer and the partial removal of his larynx, he wrote an editorial for the New York Times describing the ongoing use of cigarettes in film as "unconscionable. The truth is that there are 1,000 better and more original ways to reveal a character's personality."

Another report from the group points out that nicotine suckers, nicotine water and nicotine lip balm were developed for people trying to quit smoking or are in places where you cannot light up - offices, airplanes, schools, etc. The lollipops and lip balm have not been approved by the FDA, are illegal, and pose a risk to children because of their "candy-like" appearance. The water producer tried marketing its product as a "dietary supplement," but it, too, has been ruled illegal.

Tobacco Prevention Coalition Meeting
Prioritizing Tobacco Issues for Funding
Thursday, January 22, 10 a.m. - noon
Summit Center 2530 Arnold Drive, Martinez
Call 925-313-6214 for more information

The Global Tobacco Control Treaty must be signed. See how you can help.

A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge recently filed an injunction prohibiting 20 Los Angeles area bars from providing ashtrays or serving drinks to patrons who smoke inside the bar. Theresa Boschert, co-director of BREATH, the California Smoke-free Bars, Workplaces and Communities Project, sued the bars on behalf of the general public to ensure that the State's no-smoking law was enforced. The injunctions also prohibit bar employees, including musicians and bands, from smoking inside the bar. The defendant bars were required to pay attorney fees and costs ranging as high as $20,000 per bar. For more information contact BREATH at 916-739-8925 or breath@jps.net.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1040 income tax return from 2000 shows losses, including $22,606 on tobacco giant Phillip Morris. In an interview published in the New York Post last June, Schwarzenegger said he thinks laws that ban smoking in all workplaces have gone overboard, that people should have a choice. He indicated he would allow restaurant and bar owners to choose whether their establishments allow smoking.

The Tobacco Education Clearinghouse of California has just launched a public-access catalog web site, to make low-cost educationally and culturally appropriate tobacco education materials, that have been available only to funded state projects, available for purchase by health educators everywhere. Check it out at http://www.tecc.org/public. The State Department of Health Services' Tobacco Control Section has just launched a public anti-tobacco gear website for young adults, http://www.atgear.com. It offers a monthly contest, posters and more.

In Helena, Montana, citizens voted in June 2002 to ban smoking in all public buildings including restaurants, bars and casinos. Soon after, doctors at the local hospital noticed that heart-attack admissions were dropping. So they, in conjunction with the University of California, San Francisco, did a study to measure the potential short-term effects of a smoking ban. The study showed no change in heart attack rates for patients who lived outside city limits. But for city residents, the rates plummeted by 58 percent in only six months. Then the Montana State Legislature, under pressure from the Montana Tavern Association and tobacco lobbyists, rescinded the ban. The result: heart-attack rates bounced back up almost as quickly as they dropped.

GASP Smoke Free Solutions offer a Pandora's Box of tobacco control resources - 300 items including Big Cig costume, inflatable cigarettes, Puffing Poisons kit, Smokerlyzers, 50 booklets, 60 posters, displays, books, packs and models. For more information visit http://www.gasp.org.uk. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc. will merge with Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. The name of the new company will be Reynolds American. The news wasn't welcomed in Kentucky, since under the acquisition R.J. Reynolds plans to move the Louisville operations of Brown & Williamson to its hometown in Winston-Salem, N.C. but stock in both companies went up 13 percent when the merger was announced.

Is New York City's smoking ban actually hurting business? From March to June, the city created 10,000 new restaurant and bar jobs, according to the Department of Labor. The state Department of Taxation and Finance's most recent report of alcohol and beer tax collections (which measures both on-premises consumption and retail sales) shows that revenues rose to $15.2 million this past August, from $14.4 million in August 2002.

The San Francisco Tobacco Free Coalition says calls are urgently needed to encourage President George Bush to sign a global tobacco control treat. The World Health Organization adopted a sweeping anti-tobacco treaty in May. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control calls for a general ban on tobacco advertising and promotion - or restrictions in countries where, as in the U.S., a total prohibition would violate the constitution. The treaty aims to stop hard-sell tactics aimed at adolescents and strip tobacco of its image of being glamorous and cool. Developing countries, already grappling with a heavy burden from infectious diseases, have been at the fore in pushing for the convention, saying they need protection from tobacco multinationals who have switched their sales drives from saturated Western markets to Asia and Africa. There are about 1 billion smokers worldwide. The U.S. team agreed to support the treaty, but it must be signed by the President. Visit www.tobaccotreatynow.org or call 202-456-1111.

Contact FYI at 925-313-6214 or e-mail jfreestone@hsd.cccounty.us. This newsletter was made possible by funds received from the Tobacco Health Protection Act of 1988-Proposition 99, under Contract Number 01-7-0, with the California Department of Health Services, Tobacco Control Section.


Content provided by the Tobacco Prevention Project of Contra Costa Health Services.

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