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Contra Costa Health Services


A Project Update From The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project

January 2006

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors gave the public an early holiday gift, directing Contra Costa Health Services to develop a list of policies to protect residents from secondhand smoke. While the County has made tremendous progress on the issue of clean indoor air, much remains to be done in the areas of smoke-free entryways, multi-unit housing, parks and trails. The health department will submit the list to the Family and Human Services Committee by March 20.

After hearing testimony from members of Empowerment Through Action, the Richmond City Council on December 20 directed the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would require tobacco merchants to be licensed. For more information call Charlotte Dickson at 925-313-6216.

Secondhand smoke will likely be classified as a toxic air contaminant by the end of January 2006. The California Air Resources Board will hold a public hearing at its January 26 meeting in Sacramento on the report it issued recently describing environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) as a possible toxic air contaminant (TAC). For more info, log on to

A 25-feet smoke-free doorway amendment to Oakland's Smoking Control ordinance passed with flying colors recently. This means that all workplace doorways, including private businesses, are no smoking zones. Once a business has been informed of a violation, they will be provided with a sign to put up. For more information call WHO?

Our local Alcohol and Other Drugs Update, published faithfully biweekly by Ellen Peterson, recently devoted an issue to tobacco concerns. Among other things, the publication looked at hookahs - water pipes used to smoke flavored tobacco, which they called a new phenomenon in college culture. A new publication from the World Health Organization says a water pipe smoker may inhale as much smoke during one session as a cigarette smoker would inhale consuming 100 or more cigarettes. Hookah bars are currently legal in many communities.

RESPECT (Resources and Education Supporting People Everywhere Controlling Tobacco) has launched its new website at The site contains information and tools for addressing tobacco use among low-income populations.

The Tobacco Prevention Project and Promoting Smoke-Free Families placed tobacco prevention media messages in several venues this month. The PSA "My mom's my hero" will be aired on Comcast cable stations in the county in the Deer Valley 16 movie theaters in Antioch. The public service announcement encourages adult family members not to smoke around children. Also screening at Brenden Theatres in Concord is a reminder for adults not to sell tobacco products to young people.

Tobacco Prevention Coalition Meeting
Thursday January 19 10 a.m.- noon

597 Center Avenue Suite 150, Martinez 94553
What's Up with Hookahs
Smoking in Multi-Unit Housing
Smoke-free Hospital Campuses and more

Happy New Year!

Westin Hotels & Resorts recently announced that it would institute a ban on smoking in all rooms, restaurants, bars and public areas at its 77 U.S., Canadian, and Caribbean properties starting in January. Guests may smoke only in outdoor areas. The policy reflects "a demand from guests for a smoke-free hotel experience," says Sue Brush, Westin senior vice president in an article in U.S.A. Today. For a big chain to make such a major policy shift is "very cutting-edge," American Hotel & Lodging Association President Joseph McInerney said in a statement. "The industry is sure to take notice."

Voters in Washington State, by a margin of 62% to 26% approved smoke-free workplace legislation protecting all workers, including those in bars and restaurants. The measure, which passed in every county, also bans smoking within 25 feet of doorways, windows, and ventilation ducts of smoke-free establishments.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports smoking cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products caused 14,450 residential fires in 2004, resulting in 520 deaths.

In December's Pediatrics is a review of 42 studies on how viewing on-screen smoking affects adolescent and teen smoking behavior. It concludes that eliminating scenes of smoking in new youth-rated films should substantially reduce smoking initiation in the adolescent years, when the vast majority of smokers start. Among other conclusions: "If Hollywood just got the smoking out of youth-related films, it would have a huge effect, and it would cost nothing," UCSF researcher Stan Glantz said. "It would be the most cost-effective health intervention ever done." The report is available at

A Dartmouth Medical School study published in the November issue of Pediatrics shows that teenagers who watch movies depicting smoking are more likely to try it. The study prompted a letter from the National Parent Teacher Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association and American Medical Association to film studies.

And the October 28 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, reports that exposure to state anti-tobacco television advertisements among adolescents aged 12-17 increased from 1999 to 2002, but then declined in 2003 when prevention funding was cut. In the 37 states and the District of Columbia studied, the majority of adolescents were exposed to less than one state-sponsored anti-tobacco television advertisement per month. Anti-tobacco television advertising plays an important role in tobacco prevention and is recommended by the CDC as a key component of a comprehensive state tobacco control program.

Believe it or Not!

R.J. Reynolds has a new campaign where it sends individuals birthday greetings reading: "Camel - It's your Birthday. Drinks on us." Inside the envelope are six coasters, with recipes for mixed drinks with high alcohol content and tag lines that promote excessive and irresponsible drinking such as, "Layer It On. Go 'Til Daybreak." In a letter to R.J. Reynolds, New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer, Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, and California Attorney General Bill Lockyer demand an immediate end to the campaign. "This promotion is a complete abomination," said Attorney General Spitzer. The attorneys general initially wrote to Reynolds in November, demanding that the company discontinue the program because of the grave public health concerns raised by this promotion of excessive drinking, particularly among young adults.

Here's another angle: The percentage of New Yorkers over 18 years old who smoked dropped from 20.8% to 18.1% from 2003 to 2004 - an all-time low, according to a report from Tobacco-Free Kids, a Washington, D.C.-based health group. Smoking among high school students has fallen as well - from 27% in 2000 to 18.5% in 2004, according to the state's Health Department. New York's success is attributed to smoke-free workplace legislation, cigarette taxes which require smokers to pay a fairer share of their health costs, free nicotine patches and a helpline.

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. and 31 other attorneys general from Hawaii to Maine sent letters to nine major Hollywood studios asking them to couple any depictions of smoking in movies with anti-smoking ads on the recordings they release. Last month, in response to Curran's letters, industry spokeswoman Kori Bernards said each studio would have to decide individually whether to include anti-smoking ads.

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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