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A Project Update From The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project

October/November 2007

The Concord City Council voted on October 2 to explore the feasibility of a new city ordinance that would provide a smoke-free environment in certain areas of workplace facilities and hotels, as well as parks and other public gathering places not regulated by State and Federal laws or City ordinance.

County Youth Commission staffperson and Tobacco Prevention Coalition (TPC) member Joan Tomasini told the Council they had the opportunity to "elevate the importance of the issue by including secondhand smoke in the general plan." Two high school youth with asthma also testified on how hard it was to be exposed to secondhand smoke outside of restaurants and other businesses. Casey, 15, said, "Concord is a great place to live -the thing that bothers me is when I stand and get secondhand smoke in the face." Tigh, 13, said he sometimes had to go home for asthma treatment after being near smoke outside. Joel White, Coalition Co-chair, stressed that the science clearly demonstrates the harmful health effects of secondhand smoke. TPC will discuss next steps at its November meeting (below).

Denice Dennis, Tobacco Prevention Project Manager, co-presented a session on "Advocating for and Implementing a Comprehensive Secondhand Smoke Policy" at the recent National Conference on Tobacco OR Health. The session described the work of the Tobacco Prevention Coalition in working with the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to adopt the county's Secondhand Smoke Protections policy in October 2006. It also addressed the work that has been accomplished in implementing the ordinance. For more information about the law, including signage, and how you can help the Tobacco Prevention Coalition advocate for smoke-free cities in Contra Costa County, call the Tobacco Prevention Project at 925-313-6214.

Health Services Director William Walker, MD, launched a podcast recently and the topic of the November message is how attitudes about secondhand smoke have changed. He reminds people that when he was in medical schools more than three decades ago, even physicians smoked. Now, even those who smoke want to quit. To hear the broadcast, log on to cchealth.org.

If the City Council votes yes on December 4, Oakland will be the first city in California and probably the United States to landlords and condo sellers to disclose the smoking designation status of their units and their policies around drifting smoke complaints before contracts are signed. Serena Chen at the American Lung Association of California predicts most discerning landlords will quickly recognize the benefits of converting to non-smoking units. The ordinance will take effect on January 4, 2008. Contact Serena at 510-893-5474, ext. 303.

Motorists who light up in cars carrying children anywhere in California risk fines of as much as $100 beginning January 2008. The catch is a traffic stop would have to be made for another offense - such as speeding or an illegal turn - before the driver could be cited for smoking. That change was made to insure approval by the California Assembly. A Harvard School of Public Health report issued last year reported that secondhand smoke in cars can be as much as 10 times more of a health risk than the smoke is in a home.

Tobacco Prevention Coalition Meeting
Thursday, November 29, 10 a.m. to noon
IBEW Building, 2nd floor classroom 1875 Arnold Drive, Martinez
"Next Steps in Advocating for Smokefree Cities"
Call 925-313-6214 to RSVP or for more information.

The Belmont City Council recently passed an ordinance that may make it the first city in the country to extend secondhand smoke regulation to the inside of individual apartment units. Officials said smoking would still be allowed in single-family homes and their yards, and units and yards in apartment buildings, condominiums and townhouses that do not share any common floors or ceilings with other units. The ban for multi-unit apartment buildings would not take effect for an additional 14 months after the ordinance takes effect, so that one-year lease agreements would be unaffected. City officials have said that enforcement of the smoking ban would be complaint-driven.

Getting help to quit smoking is easier than ever with the California Smokers' Helpline "Click-to-call" feature. From their website at californiasmokershelpline.org, a smoker can simply click on an icon, type in their telephone number, and indicate when they would like a call back (either right away or up to five minutes). A Helpline counselor will return their call and work with the smoker to create an individual quitting plan.

Research conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, shows that exposure to on-screen smoking in movies has a strong correlation with beginning to smoke or becoming established smokers among young adults ages 18-25. Young adults who saw the most smoking on screen have a 77 % greater chance of having smoked at least once in the last 30 days and an 86% increased chance of being regular established smokers compared to young adults who saw little smoking in movies. The study findings are published in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Several media companies have issued policies on smoking in the movies but some say they are filled with huge loopholes.

Sharon Eubanks, a lawyer who led the United States Dept of Justice team that prosecuted a landmark racketeering case against the tobacco industry spoke at the recent National Conference for Tobacco OR Health, providing some advice to health activists. In August 2006, the U.S. District court found that the tobacco company defendants violated the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and engaged in a 50-year conspiracy to defraud the American public and the world. Specific remedies were ordered. Eubanks encouraged tobacco advocates to use 1,259 pages of the court's findings for their grassroots efforts. A compilation of these findings, organized by topics (including Secondhand Smoke, Marketing to Youth, The Hazards of Smoking, and Suppression of Information) is available through the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium at www.tobaccolawcenter.org/dojlitigation.html. The authors of the compilation call the court opinion by U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler "a masterpiece of legal scholarship."

"Defendants have publicly denied what they internally acknowledged: that environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is hazardous to nonsmokers. The Defendants crafted and implemented a broad strategy to undermine and distort the evidence indicating passive smoke as a health hazard." - Judge Gladys Kessler from United States v. Philip Morris, August 2006

Americans for Nonsmokers Rights reports the summer of 2007 was epic for the smoke-free movement. Dozens of new smoke-free laws took effect - including landmark cities like Charleston, SC, Louisville, KY, and Houston, TX. In New Hampshire and Minnesota, strong new state laws are now in effect, bringing smoke-free air to all restaurants and bars. The nation's top hotspot for local smoke-free policy this summer was Alabama. Ten strong new laws took effect, nearly doubling the state's total. See a list for the country at www.no-smoke.org

A new law in New Jersey requires casinos to make at least 75% of their gambling floors smoke-free, but at least five casinos have decided to ban smoking altogether in gambling areas to comply with the regulations. The Tropicana Casino and Harrah's Atlantic City, the Showboat Casino-Hotel, Bally's Atlantic City and Caesars Atlantic City said they will build enclosed smoking lounges for customers but make their gambling floors smoke-free to improve the work environment for employees.

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 07-10 with the California Department of Public Health, Tobacco Control Section.


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

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