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Contra Costa Health Services


A Project Update From The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project

October/November 2005

The Richmond City Council's Public Safety Committee voted unanimously on October 20 to bring a tobacco retailer license ordinance to the full Council within 60 days. Committee members viewed a videotaped message about the importance of dealing with illegal tobacco sales from Empowerment Through Action members, and they heard presentations from Supervisor John Gioia and Health Services staff. For more information, call Charlotte Dickson at 925-313-6216. Six other cities in Contra Costa have already passed the ordinance, which is aimed at decreasing tobacco sales to minors. For more information, call Charlotte Dickson at 925-313-6216.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors upheld a decision of the Public Health Director to suspend the tobacco retailer's license of Rancho Liquors in El Sobrante for 21 days. The owner had appealed the decision. It was Rancho's second suspension for an illegal sale to a minor. The suspension period begins on October 24; during this time, the store cannot sell any tobacco product but can conduct the rest of its business.

Contra Costa Public Health Division's TeenAge Program and Tobacco Prevention Project, were one of six recipients of a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation to help prevent smoking and tobacco use among area youth. The grant will be used to support the Empowerment through Action (ETA) project at Middle College High School in San Pablo. Through ETA, teen advocates will define the tobacco problem they see in urban areas of West County, design solutions in partnership with adults and work with community leaders to effect change. For more information call Denice Dennis at 925-313-6825

The Dublin City Council approved a ban on cigarette retailers and wholesalers allowing customers to smoke their products on site. The Contra Costa Times reported the action was taken in response to plans to open a hookah lounge near Dublin High School. Hookahs are water pipes used to smoke flavored or sweetened tobacco. Hookah smoke contains far greater quantities of carcinogens than cigarettes. State law forbids smoking inside public places but makes an exception for tobacco-only businesses that offer a place for customers to smoke. Dublin's City Attorney said state law allows cities to curtail smoking inside those shops if they choose.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer reached an agreement with retailer 7-Eleven prohibiting 1,224 California stores (and stores in 39 other states and the District of Columbia) from placing tobacco ads adjacent to products that minors frequently purchase, as well as placing outdoor tobacco ads within 500 feet of schools and playgrounds. Also 7-Eleven employees will be required to check the identification of customers purchasing tobacco products if they appear to be younger than age 27. The agreement also prohibits vending machine sales of tobacco products or "look-alike products" and bans the sale of smoking paraphernalia to minors. 7-Eleven will pay $375,000 to support consumer tobacco-education programs and the costs of negotiating the agreement.

Tobacco Prevention Coalition Meeting
Thursday, November 10, 10 a.m.-noon
Special Presentation: Think Locally, Act Locally
Contra Costa Populations that Continue to Smoke
Dian Kaiser, RESPECT
Center for Human Development
391 Taylor Blvd, Suite 120, Pleasant Hill

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed legislation requiring all cigarettes sold in California to be "fire-safe." California joins New York, Vermont, and Canada as a fire-safe cigarette jurisdiction. Cigarettes are the #1 cause of fire death in the United States. According to the National Fire Protection Association, cigarette-caused fires result in more than 1,000 civilian deaths, 3,000 critical injuries (many among firefighters), and $400 million in direct property damage each year. A fire-safe cigarette goes out when left unsmoked.

The State's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and the Air Resources Board (ARB) has issued a final report about environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) as a possible toxic air contaminant (TAC). Under state law, the ARB is authorized to identify a substance as a TAC if it determines the substance is "an air pollutant which may cause or contribute to an increase in mortality, in serious illness, or which may pose a present or potential hazard to human health. If ETS is determined to be such a substance, ARB can determine the need for control measures. There will be a public hearing following a 45-day public comment period on the issue. For more information, log on to

Acting New Jersey Gov. Richard Codey signed legislation in August that prohibits smoking in dormitories at both public and private New Jersey colleges. Connecticut and Wisconsin have banned dorm smoking at public colleges. Vince Willmore, a spokesman for Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids said such legislation is significant because 18- to 24-year-olds are the second-most-likely age group, after younger teenagers, to start smoking. State Sen. Barbara Buono said a fire at the state's Drew University gave the measure momentum in the Legislature.

The Supreme Court refused to hear the U.S. Justice Department appeal in U.S. v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., et al. The Justice Department was seeking $280 billion in penalties against the industry if tobacco companies are found to have violated federal anti-racketeering law (RICO). The trial against the companies is going forward in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., before Judge Gladys Kessler. The Supreme Court's order will allow Kessler to move toward concluding the case, pending in her Court since September 1999. The American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network and the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund had intervened in the federal government's lawsuit to insure the tobacco companies received appropriate penalties. While expressing disappointment in the Supreme Court ruling, the group said there are still ways in which the court and government can prevent and restrain future industry wrongdoing. "Today's decision should not be an excuse to let the tobacco companies off the hook with a weak settlement. The Justice Department has put on a very strong case that the tobacco companies have engaged in a decades-long scheme to deceive the American people about the health risks of their products and their marketing to children. The government should aggressively pursue all available remedies on behalf of the American people," the group said in a statement.

Christopher Wisocki, owner of an old-time Duluth, Minnesota restaurant admits he fought tooth and nail against a local clean indoor air ordinance -- and he says now he was wrong. Not only does he note that the family restaurant's atmosphere changed for the better, but also business is up 15%. He's featured in an ad available online at and developed by Dr. Stan Glanz's Tobacco Scam project.

Sixty percent of movies advertised on the in-school TV program Channel One portray smoking, according to a new report by Commercial Alert, Smoking Class: How Schools and Channel One Promote Tobacco to Students. That pays off, because it is estimated that each year smoking in movies recruits 390,000 new young smokers in the United States. Copies of the Smoking Class report are available at (PDF). Commercial Alert is a non-profit organization.

According to Reuters, a study published in the journal Tobacco Control found that both men and women who smoked between one and four cigarettes a day were almost three times as likely to die of heart disease as were individuals who never smoked. Dr. Kjell Bjartveit of the National Health Screening Service in Oslo and colleagues tracked the health and death rates of nearly 43,000 men and women from the mid 1970s until 2002.

Norway extended its smokefree workplace law in June 2004, giving bartenders, waiters, cooks, and other staff in the sector the same protection as workers in offices or factories. According to the Norwegian government, the move was a great success: staff breathing has improved, nicotine in their urine has been virtually eliminated and air quality cleaned up.

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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