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A Project Update From The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project

August/September 2006

The City of Concord is considering a Tobacco Retailer Licensing Ordinance that would require all retailers who sell tobacco products to get a license. Retailers would be required to obey all tobacco-related and window signage laws in order to maintain the license. At a recent Concord City Council meeting, Ryan Guptil, outgoing chair of the Contra Costa County Youth Commission, reminded the council members that it is a privilege to sell tobacco, not a right, and that universal licensing can reduce the number of tobacco sales to minors. Mayor Susan Bonilla commented that "(we are) experiencing a tremendous shift in our culture about tobacco. What we are discussing here tonight is that (tobacco) is worth addressing in our city." The City Council is scheduled to discuss the licensing ordinance again on September 5.

The Tobacco Prevention Project has just released a new Youth Power Curriculum, available online at http://cchealth.org/groups/tobacco_project/youth_power_curriculum.php. The Guide is a resource for teaching youth about activism, leadership and community organizing. Use the easy-to-follow lessons in this practical training manual to partner with high-school aged youth to create real changes in their lives and communities. The Curriculum is the result of a collaborative project between the Tobacco Prevention Project and the TeenAge Program in Contra Costa Health Services' Family, Maternal and Child Health Programs.

The Third Annual Tobacco Victims' Memorial Day Walk/Run, Rally, and Health Fair is scheduled at the California State Capitol Building North Steps on Saturday, September 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. To submit copies of photos of family members who have died from tobacco-related diseases for the event's photo display, contact Laurie Comstock at 916-686-2043.

According to the Orange County Register, smog technician and smoker Christopher Delo compared the exhaust from a car to the secondhand smoke from his Marlboro cigarette. Flashing across the computer screen at Newport Smog in California are readings for air-polluting molecules from partially burned fuel, including hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. The 1997 Volvo measured 50 parts per million of hydrocarbon emissions. Delo's breath reads 351. In car terms, he's a spewing, gross polluter. This year, California became the only state in the nation to classify second-hand smoke as a toxic air contaminant that causes premature births, heart disease and asthma.

More states are pushing to combat the top cause of fire deaths by requiring tobacco companies to sell only "fire safe" cigarettes, which go out more quickly if left unattended. Tobacco companies have fought such mandates for decades, but their success appears to be waning. Since New York put the nation's first fire-safe cigarette requirement into effect in 2004, California and Vermont have passed similar laws. A fire-safe cigarette bill that passed in Illinois awaits the governor's signature, and a bill in New Hampshire is poised for a final vote soon. Comparable bills have been considered in at least a dozen other states during the past 18 months. Legislation in Congress could require fire-safe cigarettes nationally.

Tobacco Prevention Coalition Meeting
Thursday, September 20, 10 a.m. - Noon, IBEW Building,
1875 Arnold Drive, Martinez 94553
"How Will Tobacco Funds Be Spent in Contra Costa County?"
"Building Support for a Smoke-Free Contra Costa County"
To RSVP, call 925-313-6214

The days of puffing while playing slots at casinos across Ontario came to an end on June 1 with the implementation of Ontario's new smoke-free workplace law (which requires all public and work places to be smoke-free). Two casinos on native land, Casino Rama and the Great Blue Heron Casino, are not subject to the law. But the Mnjikaning First Nation has passed a bylaw similar to the one adopted by the Ontario government banning smoking at Casino Rama. And the Mississaugas of Scugog Island, who own and claim legal jurisdiction over the Great Blue Heron Casino that input from casino patrons and the operations' 700 employees convinced community leaders to ban smoking there too.

After tiring of the Arizona legislature's refusal to pass smoke-free workplace legislation, Arizona health groups are taking their case directly to the voters. On Friday, the Arizona Secretary of State's Office approved petitions clearing the way for a ballot initiative in November. The initiative would provide virtually all Arizona workers with a safe, healthy, smoke-free workplace. "This was a great day," said Bill Pfeifer, Smoke-Free Arizona chairman and president and chief executive of the American Lung Association of Arizona. Smoke-Free Arizona will be fighting a competing proposal backed by RJ Reynolds tobacco company. That proposal, misleadingly called the Arizona Non-Smoker Protection Act, would actually allow smoking in many locations and strike down all local smoke-free ordinances that are more restrictive than the state standard.

More states and communities are banning indoor smoking and raising tobacco taxes, but it's no thanks to the efforts of tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds, which is spending $40 million trying to block such laws, the Associated Press reported recently. Reynolds has used the money to set up groups like Arizona's Non-Smoker Protection Committee and Smokeless Ohio, which despite their names are opponents of proposed smoke-free ballot initiatives. The company also has funneled cash into California and Missouri to fight ballot initiatives to raise cigarette taxes. Thanks to the American Lung Association of California for this information.

In conjunction with the release of the U.S. Surgeon General's report in June, the American Lung Association (ALA) launched an online campaign urging Congressional leaders to make the U.S. Capitol smoke-free. Amazingly, the historic U.S. Capitol building still permits smoking, and office buildings in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate - where thousands of staff and constituents work and visit each day - restrict but do not prohibit smoking. ALA's goal is to obtain 10,000 signatures in support of a 100% smoke-free Capitol.

Publishers of the Zagat Survey restaurant guides recently conducted a poll of more than 115,000 people for the 2006 America's Top Restaurants guide, and found that 89% of all Americans think smoking should be totally banned in restaurants. Zagat says every time the issue comes up of banning smoking in restaurants, opponents of smoke-free laws argue that these laws would devastate small businesses. But they found the opposite was true. "Our 2004 survey found that 96% of New Yorkers were eating out as much -- or more -- after the law took effect. Moreover, studies showed that business receipts and employment increased for restaurants and bars, the number of liquor licenses increased and virtually all establishments were complying with the law."

The New York Daily News reports that the City's Health Commissioner was doing a stint on the phones to encourage residents to participate in a free nicotine patch program. "You're not too old. You're never too old to quit smoking," he told an 80-year-old woman who called asking about the patches. As part of its anti-smoking campaign, the city distributed more than 21,000 free nicotine patches over a two-week period.

The operators of Brussels International Airport have instituted a total ban on smoking inside airport buildings, including all bars, lounges and restaurants. The ban exceeds the requirements of new Belgian legislation that forbids smoking in the workplace. The airport operator, BIAC, said it was getting rid of dedicated smoking areas in airline lounges and bars, which had been in use until the past week, and extending the ban to nonpublic areas like stairwells and corridors.

Marriott hotels in the United States and Canada will become 100% smoke-free by October 15. This is the industry's largest move to a smoke-free environment and includes more than 2,300 hotels and corporate apartments under the Marriott umbrella. The new policy includes all guest rooms, restaurants, lounges, meeting rooms, public spaces, and employee work areas. Currently more than 90% of Marriott guest rooms are already non-smoking, and smoking is prohibited in many public spaces due to local laws. Designated smoking areas will be made available outside of the hotel for guests who smoke.

Contact FYI by e-mailing jfreestone@hsd.cccounty.us or call 925-313-6214. This newsletter was made possible by funds received from the Tobacco Health Protection Act of 1988 (Proposition 99), under Contract Number 04-07 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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