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A Project Update From The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project

October/November 2006

The National Great American Smokeout is November 16 and it will be a landmark event for Contra Costa Health Services as the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and 10 Health Center campuses become completely smoke-free. The County Board of Supervisors passed a comprehensive ordinance on October 17 banning smoking in public parks, common areas of multi-unit housing units, public event venues, public trails, areas such as ATM lines and bus stops, outdoor eating areas, within 20 feet of all business doorways and ventilation units and at CCRMC/HC. The new policy will be heralded with balloons, a blimp and other events on CCRMC's Martinez campus. For information about the ordinance, call Yvonne Beals at 925-313-6216.

Beginning this fall, the Tobacco Prevention Coalition and Contra Costa Health Services' Tobacco Prevention Project will begin planning for how tobacco prevention funding will be spent for the 2007-2010 period. The process will begin on November 30 with a core group of Coalition members and representatives from community-based organizations, health organizations, education, labor and youth advocates to assess the results of tobacco prevention efforts thus far in the county. After this assessment process, the Coalition will develop a set of decision-making criteria on how to select issues to be funded. Issues will be prioritized at another meeting in February. If you are interested in participating in a part of the planning process, call Denice Dennis at 925-313-6825.

Welcome to Yvonne Beals, MPA, the new Policy Coordinator for the Tobacco Prevention Project. Yvonne comes to the project with more than 10 years of experience in both local and state government and non-profit agencies. Yvonne's responsibilities include implementing the county's new secondhand smoke ordinance, including the development of an education campaign to notify affected businesses. She will also be providing technical assistance to Contra Costa cities on tobacco prevention policies, and will be responding to complaints from county residents regarding tobacco control laws. Yvonne can be reached at 925-313-6216.

A resident of a senior apartment building in Pittsburg won a judgment in small claims court last month against his neighbor and landlord for breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. The neighbors, who smoked on their shared balcony with him, refused to cease when he complained about the smoke entering his unit. The judge ruled that the neighbor could not smoke on the adjoining balcony. If the smoker continues, the plaintiff can sue the neighbor in superior court for harassment -- and for a large sum of money. (Thanks to the American Lung Association of the Greater East Bay for this story)

Tobacco Prevention Coalition Meeting
Thursday, January 25, 10 a.m. - Noon, IBEW Building,
1875 Arnold Drive, Martinez 94553
"How Funding Decisions Will Be Made"
To RSVP, call 925-313-6214
(November meeting is replaced by the November 30 planning meeting - see above)

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced this month that he and the Attorneys General of 38 other jurisdictions have entered a settlement with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) that ends RJR's sale in the United States of its candy, fruit and alcohol-flavored cigarettes. The agreement also imposes significant marketing restrictions that make it virtually impossible for RJR to market a flavored cigarette to youth in the future. The curbs apply to any cigarettes manufactured by RJR in the future that have a characterizing flavor other than tobacco or menthol. More on this agreement can be found at the Attorney General's website, http://ag.ca.gov

In Missouri, hospital campuses, including parking lots, patios and off-site clinics, have recently become tobacco-free zones. The tobacco-free move is a voluntary step by many Missouri hospitals before a state ban on tobacco use on hospital campuses goes into effect July 30, 2007. Most area hospitals banned smoking inside their facilities 10 years ago but some kept smoking "zones."

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health revealed recently that from 1998 through 2004, as public health campaigns were mounted to curb smoking, the tobacco industry increased the amount of addictive nicotine delivered to the average smoker by 10%. Of 179 cigarette brands tested in 2004, an astonishing 166 brands fell into the state's highest nicotine yield range, including 59 brands that the manufacturers had labeled "light" and 14 described as "ultra-light." Virtually all brands were found to deliver a high enough nicotine dose to cause heavy dependence.

Surgeon General Richard Carmona quietly departed recently as U.S. surgeon general. At the end of his tenure, he released a report that labeled secondhand tobacco smoke for what it indisputably is - a deadly health hazard to millions of Americans. Some people have suggested that the two events might have been linked. Dr. Carmona told his hometown paper, the Arizona Daily Star, that he often felt frustrated in the federal post, especially "when science gave way to politics... What was done was not always my decision."

The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that Lockheed Martin unveiled plans recently to eliminate cigarettes and all tobacco products from its campus-style properties starting January 1. The new rules will prohibit smoking both inside Lockheed's buildings and outside, going beyond the current policy that allows smoking in designated outside areas. The company says it's part of an effort to rein in rising healthcare expenses, which now cost the company about $800 million annually.

The University of California's faculty leaders have opened the door to a ban on research funding from tobacco companies by informally expressing their feeling that tobacco companies have used strategies shown to "suppress academic freedom." The representatives from the 10 UC campuses made no formal recommendation. But their vote sends a signal to the UC Board of Regents that the faculty would support a ban on the controversial funding. The UC Board of Regents had asked the faculty in September to study the issue of tobacco funding before the regents take up the issue again in November. Since 1995, UC researchers have received at least $29 million in 100 grants from tobacco-related companies - small in comparison with the $4 billion UC got in contracts and grants in fiscal 2005 alone, according to UC.

The tobacco industry is likely to break Ohio spending records trying to pass Issue 4, a constitutional amendment that would repeal all local smoke-free workplace laws (past, present, and future), and replace them with a weak state law that would allow smoking in many places. Recent polls show that voters are confused by Issue 4, which pretends to be a health initiative and never mentions that it is almost entirely funded by the tobacco industry. Every major Ohio newspaper (list below) has come out in opposition to Issue 4. We don't know of any newspaper that supports Issue 4, the tobacco cartel backed constitutional amendment to repeal all local smoke-free workplace laws (past, present, and future).

The Legislative Council of Hong Kong approved a law that will require virtually all workplaces, including restaurants and bars, to be smoke-free. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2007 for most workplaces. Establishments that prohibit entry to minors will have until July 1, 2009 to comply.
Besides Hong Kong, smoke-free workplace laws have passed recently in France, Iran, Houston, Louisville (KY), Columbia (SC) and elsewhere. Also, Santa Monica (CA) approved a smoke-free outdoor law, North Carolina hospitals announced tobacco free outdoor policies, and English pubs have reported huge business increases since going smoke-free.

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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