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A Project Update From The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project

June/July 2004

The Contra Costa Sheriff's Office and the Tobacco Prevention Project conducted 1420 site inspections and sting operations of workplaces and stores between October 2002 and June 2004 to enforce several tobacco laws. The laws include the ban on self-service displays of tobacco products; no sales to minors; tobacco retailer's license ordinance; and smoke-free workplace law. The Sheriff's Office issued 55 citations, including 14 involving workplace smoking and 41 focused on youth access to tobacco. The health department suspended three retail tobacco licenses. As a result of these actions, the compliance rate with these laws increased dramatically. Although the State grant supporting these inspections ended on June 30, the Sheriff's Office and Tobacco Prevention Project will continue enforcement efforts during FY 04-05.

Forty tobacco activists and Contra Costa Tobacco Prevention Coalition members celebrated 20 years of tobacco prevention in Contra Costa on May 26 at the John Muir Medical Center. Among the speakers were Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier and Terry Leach of Senator Tom Torlakson's office. Awards for Outstanding Contributions to tobacco prevention were given to 10 individuals. The American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Contra Costa Health Services were recognized for their role in founding the Smoking Education Coalition, the predecessor to the Tobacco Prevention Coalition.

Tune in to ESPN, Court TV, Fox News, Fox Sports and CNN and check out local buses, bus shelters and movie theaters for the Tobacco Prevention Project's upcoming media campaign. Three commercials will air - one focused on illegal tobacco sales to minors, one on reducing children's exposure to secondhand smoke and the third on the new law prohibiting smoking within 20 feet of government buildings. Thanks to Lynn Yaney and employees of the Employment and Human Services Department for helping to develop the outdoor smoking ad. For more information, call Charlotte Dickson at the Tobacco Prevention Project, 925-313-6216.

Through the Tobacco Prevention Project (TPP), the county's Community Wellness & Prevention Program is partnering with the Family, Maternal and Children Health Program (FMCH) to broaden the work of the Promoting Smoke Free Families Project (PSFF). Funded by First Five Contra Costa, PSFF will develop secondhand smoke education for the PSFF Collaborative and conduct cessation and secondhand smoke training to perinatal healthcare staff. TPP welcomes Cherri Gardner, PSFF Collaborative Coordinator, and Sylvia Taqi-Eddin, PSFF Training Coordinator. For more information, call Denice Dennis at 925-313-6825.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on a "longshot activist campaign" to pressure Longs Drug Stores to stop selling tobacco. According to the Chronicle, a small cadre of investors and activists (including the City of Berkeley's Tobacco Prevention Coalition) worked for two years to get Walnut Creek-based Longs to drop tobacco sales. The activists say former Longs executives agreed to consider the move. Then Warren Bryant became Longs' chief executive in October 2002 and chairman in August 2003. His stance - representative of the drug store industry as a whole - is that cigarettes are legal and Longs will continue selling them. The company says it has stepped up efforts to keep tobacco from minors and to educate adults on the negative health effects of smoking. Since activists didn't think that was enough, they initiated a proxy proposal to separate Longs' CEO and Chairman posts. The initiative didn't pass but it got more votes than expected.

Tobacco Prevention Coalition Meeting
Thursday, September 16, 10 a.m. - noon
American Cancer Society, 1885 Oak Park Blvd, Pleasant Hill
Special Presentation: Tobacco as a Social Justice Issue

Attorney General Bill Lockyer recently sued Safeway, Inc. for selling tobacco products to minors and failing to take adequate steps to prevent such sales at its Safeway, Vons, Pavilions and Pak N' Save stores. Lockyer filed the complaint with Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. The complaint seeks civil penalties and asks for an injunction that would require the Safeway, Inc. stores to take certain actions to curb tobacco product sales to minors. Despite being notified of the illegal sales, Safeway, Inc. has done little to correct the problem, the complaint alleges. Californians who suspect violations of state tobacco laws can call 916-565-6486 any time, or write the Tobacco Litigation and Enforcement Section of the Attorney General's Office at P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550. Additional information is available on the Attorney General's web site at http://www.ag.ca.gov/tobacco/

A new law effective June 29 in New York State requires all cigarettes sold there to self-extinguish if left unsmoked. New York is the first state to pass such a law. Other states are expected to follow soon. Canada is the first country to pass fire-safe cigarette legislation, but its law will not take effect until next year. Cigarette-caused fires are the nation's leading cause of fire death, annually killing more than 1,000 people, critically injuring more than 3,000 (including many firefighters), and costing victims more than $400 million in direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. When New York first debated fire-safe cigarette legislation two years ago, tobacco companies claimed they would not be able to comply. They threatened to stop selling cigarettes in New York if the law passed. Of course, they haven't. To thank NY officials, go to http://www.smokefree.net/fire.

With the decrease in funding from Prop 99, we're looking for ways to cut costs. If you are willing to receive this newsletter by email, please let us know. Email jpeters2@hsd.cccounty.us.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Utah Department of Health has withdrawn $100,000 for a gay-themed, anti-smoking campaign from the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Community Center of Utah. The Center says the move is related to a flap over t-shirts at a Midvale, Utah high school. Administrators at Hillcrest High School in Midvale suspended four students for refusing to cover up or change t-shirts saying, "Queers + Kick Ash." Hillcrest officials claimed the shirts violate the school's dress code, which prohibits clothing that is vulgar or sexually suggestive, or "items which bear advertising, promotions and the likeness of tobacco." The Center says the shirts were created by a teen task force. Hillcrest was the only school in the area that objected to them. The Centers for Disease Control has reported that nearly 60% of gay adults between the ages of 18 and 24 smoke, as opposed to 35% of their straight counterparts.

University of California, San Francisco researcher Dr. Stanton Glantz says that he noticed a Philip Morris advertisement on Oprah's website in the guise of "How Do You Raise Kids That Don't Smoke?" The ad appears in sequence on the fitness pages with others ranging from low-carbohydrate dinners to Victoria's Secret and beauty products. It links directly to the Philip Morris website. Glantz says that when Oprah's "O" magazine came out, Oprah prided herself on refusing tobacco advertising. Since Oprah influences millions around the world, he suggests checking out the site and complaining by email to Oprah at http://www.oprah.com.

"Welcome to Norway. The only thing we smoke here is salmon," read posters issued by the government as it eliminates smoking in all workplaces, including bars, restaurants and discos. The posters are part of a new smoke-free campaign launched by the Norwegian Ministry of Health as Norway becomes the second country in Europe after Ireland to implement a total smoke-free policy in all workplaces. The Norwegian government has also been trying to get the country's citizens to quit smoking by attacking their wallets. At more than $9.70 dollars a pack, Norway, along with Britain, has the most expensive cigarettes in Europe.

The British Medical Journal published a study in June that shows the risks of heart disease associated with passive smoking are twice what was previously thought and are virtually indistinguishable from active smoking. The reason for the higher risks is that rather than using marriage to a smoker or working in a smoky environment as the measure of exposure, this study measured plasma cotinine, a direct biochemical measure of total secondhand smoke exposure. Read the whole study at http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/, keywords passive smoke and heart disease.

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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