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Contra Costa Health Services


A Project Update From The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project

April/May 2004

Congratulations to the San Pablo City Council, which heard testimony on April 5 from three Empowerment Through Action teens and unanimously approved its draft Tobacco Retailer's License Ordinance. The ordinance will require all tobacco retailers to obtain an annual license and will ban the self-service displays of all tobacco products. Council members Morris, Gomes and Calloway commended the young people for their "yeoman's effort" to bring the issue of youth access to tobacco to the Council and to promote the ordinance.

Hercules Mayor Joanne Ward expressed strong interest in following San Pablo's lead and exploring a tobacco retailer's license ordinance for Hercules. She met with a group of Tobacco Prevention Coalition members and Hercules residents last month.

Happy Anniversary!

The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and to celebrate, it is holding an event on May 26 in the Ball Auditorium at the John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. Included in the festivities will be a retrospective on tobacco activism in the County, a video premiere and awards for outstanding contributions to tobacco prevention. For more information, call the Tobacco Prevention Project at 925-313-6214.

Dr. Joel White, one of the founders of the Tobacco Prevention Coalition and a long time anti-tobacco activist, retired from his profession as a radiology oncologist at John Muir Medical Center. Saying he doesn't have time to work given his many interests, he expects to be devoting more time to a number of pursuits, including tobacco prevention. Congratulations, Joel!

A survey looking at the level of implementation of CDC Guidelines for School Health Programs to Prevent Tobacco Use and Addiction was sent recently to county high schools. Results from participating high schools indicated that schools have comprehensive tobacco prevention policies that include banning anyone from using tobacco on campus and clearly communicating the tobacco policy to the school community. Areas for improvement include offering teachers more tobacco instruction and promoting family involvement in tobacco prevention activities. As part of a plan to address the guidelines, Olympic High staff and students in Concord attended the Teens Tackle Tobacco Conference in March. For more information, contact Isabelle Barbour, 925-313-6218.

The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors will conduct a public meeting May 1 to increase the annual tobacco retailers' license fee. Contra Costa Health Services is proposing a fee of $160 to cover administrative and enforcement costs. For more information, call Charlotte Dickson at 925-313-6216.

The University of California, Berkeley recently held a gala celebration to recognize Public Health Heroes. Among those recognized were Contra Costa's Public Health Division and its Director Wendel Brunner, M.D. The County was praised for its county's leadership in tobacco control, dating back two decades ago with an ordinance protecting residents from exposure to secondhand smoke.

Americans for Nonsmokers Rights as a new tool: an e-advocacy system powered by Get Active! It allows advocates to send messages to decision makers. Their first online campaign aims to ask Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to take down his "smoking tent." For more information, visit

Tobacco Coalition member Laurie Comstock moved to Sacramento last year and hasn't wasted time making her impact. On Valentine's Day, Laurie organized a rally asking Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger not to turn back the clock on California's smokefree workplace policies and to be a better role model for the youth regarding smoking. Laurie says the Governor "has been glamorizing cigar smoking" and making negative comments about our smokefree policies even before his election. What really annoyed her were rumors that he was planning to smoke on his patio in our State Capitol. The event attracted the media, including the Washington Post, CNN, the BBC and other international outlets.

The University of California, San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education will hold a one-day workshop on June 19 from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. at UCSF for community-based advocates on using tobacco industry documents for advocacy. This workshop will cover: introduction to tobacco industry documents; hands-on practice searching tobacco industry documents databases under the supervision of expert document researchers; examples of ways in which the documents can be of use for public health work in your community; and opportunities to meet and brainstorm with top documents. For information contact Dr. Valerie Yerger, or 415-476-2784.

The California Department of Health Services' Tobacco Control Section has a new advertising and public relations campaign called undo. It's designed to expose the consequences of tobacco addiction, tobacco industry propaganda and secondhand smoke. A free media advocacy kit to help local programs incorporate the undo campaign message - undo addiction to smoking, undo forced exposure to secondhand smoke, undo acceptance of tobacco advertising - is available online at

The National APPEAL Youth Leadership Summit invites young advocates to take action against tobacco's impact on Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Year-long fellowships and a summit in Marin County on July 28-31 will help 30 youth develop skills and knowledge. Check online at

Burlington, Vermont's largest city, became the nation's latest city recently to go smokefree, joining New York, Boston, L.A., San Francisco, and hundreds of others. "People who work in bars and cabarets are good people," said Burlington City Councilwoman Joan Shannon. "Their health is just as important as everyone else's. Tobacco smoke causes disease. No one should have to breathe it to hold a job."

An economic study in the December 2003 issue of the journal Tobacco Control finds no loss of business, and sometimes increased business, at restaurants and bars when smokefree ordinances are put in place. The study that provided the basis for the report was supported by the National Cancer Institute and conducted by Stanton Glantz, PhD, professor of medicine at UCSF and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education and Rebecca Wilson-Loots, project assistant at the Center.

The California Tobacco Control Alliance (Alliance) is leading Smoking Cessation Benefits Everyone, an initiative to increase access to stop-smoking treatments in California's managed care organizations. Currently, comprehensive smoking cessation treatments are not automatically included in standard benefit packages in the state. Since every Californian pays the cost of smoking through increased insurance rates, health care services and lost productivity, making effective services and treatments available to California smokers benefits everyone by reducing health care costs and providing for a healthier California. You can add your voice by logging on to For more information call 916-554-0390.

Yum! Brands owns KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver's, A&W and other fast food restaurants. They are opposing a shareholder proposal to ban smoking in their U.S. restaurants. Yum contends the proposal would make customers go elsewhere. According to the Associated Press, four religious groups are asking Yum to adopt such a policy worldwide. To send a letter to Yum! Brands, visit Competitor McDonald's Corp. bans smoking in all its U.S. company-owned restaurants and encourages franchisees to do the same.

Contact FYI at 925-313-6214 or e-mail This newsletter was made possible by funds received from the Tobacco Health Protection Act of 1988-Proposition 99, under Contract Number 01-7-0, 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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