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A Project Update From The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project

March/April 2007

At least 150 people turned out to hear the Belmont, CA city attorney talk about a proposed ordinance that declares secondhand smoke a nuisance and extends restrictions on smoking to sidewalks, multi-unit apartment buildings, company cars and other places. The San Mateo County tobacco control coalition, Belmont homeowners and renters attended the meeting. According to the San Mateo County tobacco project, the majority of those opposed to the proposal were hospitality business representatives who were concerned that a sidewalk smoking ban would drive away customers who smoke. They were in support of some kind of restrictions in multi-unit housing. The proposed ordinance gives City Council members a variety of options to choose from before the final vote.

Staff at one of three Planned Parenthood clinics in Contra Costa have been trained on prenatal smoking cessation and secondhand smoke exposure through the Promoting Smoke-Free Families Project, a collaboration between Health Services' Family, Maternal and Child Health Program and the Tobacco Prevention Project. Six prenatal staff - including a Nurse Practitioner, the Prenatal Coordinator and Community Health Workers - attended the February session at Planned Parenthood, Richmond. Staff began implementing a protocol that identifies pregnant smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke through a health survey and clinician intervention. Planned Parenthood clinics in Concord and Antioch will be trained in March. Planned Parenthood joins the Richmnd Health Center, Martinez Healthy Start, Brookside Community Center, Antioch Medical Park and Pittsburg Health Center in providing these services to their pregnant patients. For more information, call Candice Zimmerman at 925-313-6463.

The Contra Costa Tobacco Prevention Coalition, Tobacco Prevention Project staff and partners recently completed a tobacco issue assessment and prioritization process that resulted in the 2007-2010 Goals and Objectives for Tobacco Prevention in Contra Costa County. These include advocating for secondhand smoke protections in Contra Costa cities; reducing the impact of storefront tobacco advertising; and working with cities to enforce tobacco retailer licensing laws. Coalition and staff will also be working to recruit more partners from the diverse communities of the county to participate in tobacco prevention activities. For more information, contact Denice Dennis at 925-313-6825.

Concord city leaders have approved a smoking ban within the 1-acre Todos Santos Plaza. According to the Contra Costa Times, families had complained for years to police and others about having to walk through smoke plumes during crowded farmers markets and children sometimes would find cigarette butts near playground equipment in the park. The new rule was created through city administrators who regulate park hours and rules on littering. Concord Police Lt. Robin Heinemann said the penalty hasn't been set, but it likely will be a small fine or some sort of community service.

Contra Costa Public Health Director Dr. Wendel Brunner has been appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the Tobacco Education and Research Oversight Committee (TEROC), which oversees the use of Proposition 99 tobacco tax revenues. TEROC provides advice to state agencies, updates a state master plan for tobacco control and tobacco-related research, and makes recommendations to the State Legislature.

Tobacco Prevention Coalition Meeting
Thursday, 10 a.m. - noon, May 17, 2007
IBEW Building, 1875 Arnold Drive, 2nd floor,
Martinez CA 94553
Smokefree Multi-Unit Housing for Contra Costa
To RSVP, call 925-313-6214

Governor Schwarzenegger proposed last month, as part of his health care reform and prevention package, $11 million in General Fund spending for the state Tobacco Control Section. The money would go for nicotine replacement therapy for smokers who use the California Smokers' Helpline (CSH), more funds for the Helpline, media to promote the Helpline and contracts to monitor smoking cessation benefits provided by the 10 largest public and private health insurers. It is estimated that the new spending will result in approximately 46,000 additional quitters and a $412 million savings in lifetime health care costs. This proposal must go through the legislative process for approval, and may not be available until fiscal year 2008-09. To see the entire prevention proposal, visit http://www.stayhealthycalifornia.com and go to "Health Care Highlights" and then "Prevention and Wellness."

The California Youth Advocacy Network (CYAN) developed a new resource for communities working to reduce the impact of tobacco use in films on youth that is now available online. The Tobacco and Hollywood Community Action Guide is designed to empower youth, community members, and tobacco control advocates to change tobacco use norms in Hollywood. It contains the tools communities need to work on the Tobacco and Hollywood petition drive and endorsement campaign - advocacy campaigns which are supported at the statewide level by CYAN. The guide is available online at cyanonline.org or, to request a hard copy of the Action Guide, contact Andrea Valdez at 916-339-3424 ext. 25 or at andrea@cyanonline.org

The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. has ruled against the major U.S. cigarette companies. The companies were arguing about a decision that found them guilty of violating civil racketeering laws. Their motion claimed that the order that they stop making misleading statements about the health effects of their products was unduly vague; and that the prohibition against using the terms Light and low tar should not apply to the cigarette companies' activities outside the U.S. Judge Gladys Kessler found that the evidence of the "scheme to defraud" was so extensive that it is clear the defendants know what future actions are prohibited without further clarification. She also held that the ban on light and low tar does apply to the activities of the defendant cigarette companies outside the United States. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids & Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund, it is likely that the U.S. Court of Appeals will stay her order pending appeal.

ABC Channel 7 television recently did a story about direct mail advertising by tobacco companies - something that's legal under the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1998. University of California, San Francisco researcher Dr. Stanton Glantz says the $15 billion annual advertising effort, which targets 18-25 year olds. He points out it is almost completely out of the public eye so most authorities, most of the public, most people in the media don't even know about it. People attend tobacco-sponsored events where their drivers' licenses are checked - and scanned - and that's the database used for the mailing. Glantz would like to see a law that prohibits the scanning of driver's licenses within 500 feet of a bar.

The U.S. Senate began hearings recently on a bipartisan bill to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory control over cigarettes and other tobacco products. Writing about the proposal in the Washington Times, Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, founder and president of the American Council on Science and Health, says the idea sounds good but could increase smoking-related deaths. She points out the bill prohibits the FDA from eliminating nicotine in cigarettes, allowing them only to reduce it, which will make smoker s smoke "harder and take in more hazardous products from combustion. While it would require removing some of the dangerous chemicals in the products, it wouldn't get rid of the toxicity that results when the products of tobacco combustion are inhaled into the lungs and get into the circulation." The bill's proponents, including Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), argue that FDA authority over tobacco will lead to a safer cigarette, stronger warning labels and a reduction in cigarette-related deaths.

Only 4% of U.S. employers offer programs to help employees quit smoking, despite higher health care costs for employees who smoke and smoking breaks that can cost employers as many as nine weeks of lost productivity annually, according to a survey by the National Business Group on Health. The survey also found that, although 78% of employers have banned smoking in the workplace, the policies have not prompted employees who smoke to quit. The survey was reported by the Associated Press.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website offers a downloadable brochure addressing the harm of secondhand smoke, particularly to children. The brochure in both English and Spanish, called "Secondhand Tobacco Smoke and the Health of Your Family," is available on the EPA Smoke-Free Homes Program website at: www.epa.gov/smokefree In addition to the brochure, there is additional health information about the effects of secondhand smoke on children, as well as three easy steps to keep your home and car 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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