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Contra Costa Health Services


A Project Update From The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project

August/September 2005

Members of Empowerment Through Action (ETA) made a presentation at the June 21 Richmond City Council meeting. They showed pictures from their community walk-around and asked the Council to consider a tobacco retailer license ordinance and revisions to the City's sign ordinances. The City Council enthusiastically sent the topics to the Public Safety Committee and asked for a draft ordinance in the Fall. For more information, call Charlotte Dickson at 925-313-6216.

ETA's adult coordinator, LaShonda Williams, is leaving Contra Costa Health Services to take on a challenging position with Alameda County's Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) program. We will miss LaShonda but look forward to continuing to work with her on tobacco. Good luck, LaShonda!

Thanks to enforcement of Contra Costa's strong Tobacco Retailer Licensing Ordinance, the sales rate of tobacco to minors remained at 7% in the unincorporated areas between July 2004 and June 2005. The Sheriff's Office conducted 100 undercover buying operations and issued seven citations for illegal sales. Contra Costa Health Services held 12 suspension hearings for violations of the licensing ordinance and suspended 11 licenses. Some of the suspensions were for violations prior to July 2004. For more information, call Charlotte Dickson at 925-313-6216.

The Second Annual Tobacco Victims' Memorial Day event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the California State Capitol Building on the North Steps. It is a walk, health fair and memorial. To participate or to submit a photo of a loved one to include in a photo memorial, email or call phone/fax 916-686-2043.

Promoting Smoke-Free Families, a collaborative project of the Tobacco Prevention Project and the Family, Maternal and Child Health Programs, is offering a two-part training session to provide agencies with the information and skills to assist their clients with creating smoke-free homes and cars for children. The trainings, which will be held in Martinez, are scheduled for Dec. 1 and Dec. 13 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. For more information or to obtain a training application, call Jennifer Dowling at 925-313-6214 or email

The Federal Trade Commission's annual report on cigarette sales and advertising shows that the major cigarette manufacturers spent $15.15 billion on advertising and promotional expenditures in 2003, an increase of $2.68 billion (21.5%) from 2002 and the most ever reported to the Commission. Almost $11 billion (71.4%) was spent on price discounts paid to retailers or wholesalers to reduce the price of cigarettes to consumers. Manufacturers spent $354.6 million on magazine, outdoor and point-of-sale advertising. The full report is available at

Tobacco Prevention Coalition Meeting
Thursday, Sept. 15, 10 a.m - noon
Center for Human Development, Pleasant Hill
Agenda to include:
- Policies for Smoke-free Organizations
- Socioeconomic Status and Tobacco Use
- Tobacco Retailer License

In a case that tobacco law specialists say is one of the first of its kind in the nation, a Boston Housing Court jury ruled in June that a South Boston couple could be evicted from their rented waterview loft for heavy smoking, even though smoking was allowed in their lease. The New York Times reported that a jury ruled in favor of the landlord and the eviction. Even though the landlord could have written a nonsmoking clause into the lease and didn't, the jury found that the couple's heavy smoking violated a more general clause banning "any nuisance; any offensive noise, odor or fumes; or any hazard to health." In another Massachusetts case several years ago, a superior court judge found that a tenant could not be evicted for smoking three to six cigarettes per day. But the judge said that these tenants' cigarette use was so constant and so heavy that it rose to the same nuisance level as loud parties or excessive noise and created an unhealthful condition for other tenants.

Update on the Department of Justice lawsuit against the tobacco industry

Six public health groups successfully petitioned the judge in the government's case against the tobacco industry. The groups said the government's proposed remedies ($10 billion vs. $130 billion that was originally requested) were evidence that the Justice Department no longer represented the interests of the American people. The groups will be allowed to propose alternative remedies directly to the court. A coalition of African-American, Asian, Latino, American Indian and Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender organizations have written to the court asking that $50 billion be directed to these communities to compensate for its targeted marketing and disproportionate effect on them. Read an overview of the case at (PDF)

Saying that exposure to tobacco smoke is particularly dangerous to children, U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, MD, MPH, recently outlined 10 tips to prevent children from being exposed to secondhand smoke and from becoming tobacco users themselves. These tips are part of a series of health advisories that Dr. Carmona is issuing during "The Year of the Healthy Child." The tips are available online at

According to the June issue of Addiction, tobacco companies designed cigarettes to appeal to women's desires to be thin and healthy in ways that went "far beyond marketing and advertising," health researchers say. A Harvard School of Public Health study said internal documents released by tobacco companies under a 1998 court settlement show the companies created cigarettes, including "slim" and so-called "light" brands, in part to attract women. The study showed a clear effort to find out what might make women want to smoke.

The good news is that Sweden joined other European countries this month in requiring clean air in bars, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs. Tobacco is the single biggest health risk in Sweden, which has 1.2 million smokers. Twenty years ago those figure were doubled. In 1963, 49% of Swedish men and 23% of Swedish women were active smokers. Now Sweden has one of the lowest smoking rates within Europe. In 1998, Sweden became the first country to reach the World Health Organization's goal of reducing smoking prevalence to less than 20% of the population. That figure now stands between 17 and 18%. (Thanks to for this story)

And now for the bad news. It may be that Sweden's unusually positive downward trend in men's smoking is explained by the use of "snus," a form of snuff that is illegal in the United States and the rest of the European Union. According to researcher Dr. Jonathan Foulds, Swedish men who have given up smoking may be using snus instead. (Thanks to the Seduction of Harm Reduction, CA Department of Health Services)

The heart doesn't like smoking, no matter who's doing it. That's the take-home message from a report published in Circulation. The report documents a long list of heart hazards from secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke's heart damage often rivals that of active smoking, and even a little exposure may have an impact, says the review by Joaquin Barnoya, MD, MPH, and colleagues. Secondhand smoke's heart effects are "rapid and large," like those of air pollution, say Barnoya and colleagues. The heart effects of even brief secondhand smoke exposure are about 80% to 90% as large as that from chronic active smoking, they say. (Excerpts from

Smoking cost the nation about $92 billion in the form of lost productivity in 1997-2001, up about $10 billion from the annual mortality related productivity losses for the years 1995-1999, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information visit

Contact FYI by e-mailing 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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