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A Project Update From The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project

May/June 2008

Systematic targeting of inner-city populations with menthol cigarette marketing has contributed to health disparities among African Americans, according to a leading researcher who will speak to a local health advocacy group in May. The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Coalition will hear a talk by Dr. Valerie Yerger at its May 22 meeting (details below). Dr. Yerger is co-author of an article recently published in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Uninsured titled "Racialized Geography, Corporate Activity and Health Disparities: Tobacco Industry Targeting of Inner Cities" For more information about the coalition, its monthly meeting or the county's Tobacco Prevention Project, call Denice Dennis at 925-313-6825.

The American Lung Association was recently funded to expand its Smoke Free Housing Project to the entire Bay Area. The Project will be involved with helping cities in the nine Bay Area counties adopt and implement landlord disclosure laws and with working with the largest affordable multi-unit housing Bay Area property management companies in converting a minimum of 50% of their units to smokefree. Disclosure laws require landlords to tell prospective tenants which units are smoking units and how drifting smoke complaints will be handled. New activities include the launch of a Bay Area Smoke-Free Housing website which not only provide links to existing materials, but provide a address the specific needs of: Landlords, Tenants, Condo owners, and Policy Makers/Advocates. The website will also include policy implementation strategies and smoke-free apartment listings.

Cigarettes that weren't fully extinguished were the cause of a two-alarm fire March 23 at a senior housing complex in Concord, the Contra Costa Fire District said. About 25 residents of the Chateau on Broadway were moved temporarily to a nearby hotel after the flames and water damaged several units of the upper two floors of the four-story building, said fire district spokeswoman Emily Hopkins. At least four people were treated for minor smoke inhalation and then released, she said. The fire is believed to have started on a third floor deck.

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) announced early this year a "Smoking & Home Fires Campaign" to put an end to the number one cause of preventable home fire deaths - fires started by smoking materials. The campaign is designed to alert smokers and those who live with smokers about how to stop the fire before it starts in their home. The USFA, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is encouraging smokers to "Put It Out. All the Way. Every Time."

The Atlantic City Council voted unanimously April 9 to approve a controversial measure that would prohibit smoking on all casino floors for the first time in the seaside resort's 30-year history of gambling. The ordinance allows smoking only in specially built non-gaming lounges inside casinos. The new ban arrived on the eve of the first anniversary of a partial smoking ban, which took effect April 15, 2007, that confined smoking to 25 percent of the casino floors. The law required the 11 casinos to build enclosed smoking structures within their confines. To date, none of the Atlantic City casinos has built one.

Educational materials remain available from the Tobacco Education Clearinghouse of California (tobaccofreecatalog.org) on the state's new Smoke Free Cars law. The new law prohibits smoking in cars and other vehicles when youth under the age of 18 are present. The new materials include a two-sided fact card and poster, available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Downloadable fact sheets in English and Spanish are also available on the Tobacco Prevention Project's website at cchealth.org by clicking on Health Topics, then Tobacco Prevention.

Tobacco Prevention Coalition Meeting
Special Presentation: Tobacco Industry Targeting of Inner City African Americans
with Valerie Yerger, ND
Thursday, May 22, 10 a.m. to noon
George Miller Center, 300 27th St., Richmond
Call 925-313-6214 to RSVP or for more information.

The Smoke Free Movies campaign has a new series of innovative print ads in Variety and other publications, including a quiz about which of 30 popular films since 2003 included smoking. Three out of four films since 1999 have featured smoking, so it's easy to guess that a majority on the list do. For a complete list of organizations endorsing the Smoke Free Movies policy solutions, visit www.smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu or write: Smoke Free Movies, UCSF School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA 94143-1390.

More than 112,571 Philip Morris USA documents were added recently to the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu). To find them, conduct a search for documents added to LTDL on March 10, 2008 --> Enter "ddu:20080310" in the Expert Search box without quotes. The LTDL now contains 43,997,241 pages in 8,262,833 documents.

Fighting for its life, Ohio's leading smoking prevention foundation went to court recently to block Gov. Ted Strickland and legislative leaders from taking about 85 percent of the foundation's money for a job-generating plan. The Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation filed a motion in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to void an emergency law passed in April that would divert $230 million of the foundation's $270 million toward Strickland's economic-stimulus package. The foundation also is seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent Treasurer Richard Cordray from shifting the money. In its legal filing, the foundation said lawmakers tucked the measure about liquidating its assets into an unrelated bill about the inspection of plumbing, thereby violating a ban on cobbling together unrelated measures in a single bill.

Philip Morris USA decided recently to stop funding external research projects at a variety of universities, including many projects in the University of California. The nation's largest cigarette maker made the decision after a few months of controversy surrounding UC's use of funding from tobacco companies and the use of animals in the projects receiving the money. The UC Board of Regents debated a ban on receiving money from tobacco companies, but ultimately decided in September against the proposal and instead adopted a new policy regarding research proposals. UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton said in the last fiscal year, the tobacco industry spent about $16 million helping to fund 23 research projects at the University of California.

The McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin instituted a new policy last fall regarding the school's relationship with tobacco companies: It would no longer accept money from them. This ban covers contributions to student organizations, career fairs, faculty research projects, and research centers. After considering arguments regarding academic freedom and funding by other industries, the school's leadership concluded that it is evident that tobacco has been a unique product in American history, and that it is both highly addictive and harmful.

Alternatively, a March 31 story in the Boston Globe reported that scientists at Boston University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts accept grants from Philip Morris USA. The research supported by the company touched on conditions such as heart disease and cancer that are linked to smoking. "Taking money from the tobacco industry to conduct scientific research is like the DA taking money from the Mafia to conduct investigations of crime," said Gregory Connolly, a Harvard School of Public Health professor and former director of the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program.

New legislation takes effect May 31 in Canada's Ontario province that significantly limits the ability of tobacco companies to market their products at the point of sale. Under the new legislation, all types of tobacco products - cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff and others - cannot be within a customer's view before they're purchased. They must, instead, be kept behind a self-closing door or under the counter, out of the customer's line of sight. The only time a product is visible when the cashier briefly opens the door to get it for a customer. There are also signage restrictions included in the new law.

Mexico City recently banned cigarette smoking in all public places, from bars to office buildings, to reduce the amount of carcinogens inhaled by residents of the smog-filled capital. The city, home to some 18 million people in the metropolitan area, on April 3 became the most recent big city to pass a smoking ban to improve public health and protect nonsmokers from secondary smoke. The law to ban smoking in all enclosed areas, from sidewalk cafes to public transportation to elevators and schools, was passed by the city assembly in November. Smokers who violate the ban can be fined between $50 and $300, with higher penalties for bar and restaurant owners who allow smoking. Several major U.S. cities as well as countries across Europe have enforced similar bans.

Contact FYI by e-mailing dsmith@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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