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Contra Costa Health Services


A Project Update From The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project

April/May 2006

Pleasant Hill City Council is discussing the adoption of a policy that would prohibit smoking within 20 feet of doorways, ventilation units and operable windows. At a recent meeting, City Councilmember Suzanne Angeli stated that she wanted do something to address the many complaints she receives from people who must go through a cloud of smoke in the normal course of their day. In March, the city amended its smoking ordinance to prohibit smoking in tobacco shops. (Smoke from these stores typically drifts into surrounding stores.) Recently declared a toxic air contaminant by the CA Air Resources Board, secondhand smoke has been linked to a variety of health effects, including increased incidence of cancer, heart disease and respiratory ailments.

Other Bay Area communities are also looking at further protections. The Emeryville City Council is considering a comprehensive secondhand smoke ordinance that would include smokefree doorways for all businesses. San Mateo County recently passed an ordinance creating a 30-foot non-smoking "buffer zone" around all county buildings, as well as the smoke-free indoor and outdoor common areas for multi-unit complexes of four or more units. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that bans smoking at public transit stops and shelters. In Contra Costa, the Family and Human Services Committee of the Board of Supervisors is discussing an ordinance that would address secondhand smoke in the unincorporated areas of the county.

The Monterey City Council recently joined Pacific Grove and Carmel in prohibiting the use of tobacco on city-owned beaches. According to the Monterey County Health Department's Tobacco Control Program, a recent beach cleanup resulted in the removal of 7,141 cigarette butts from View of the Bay in Monterey. The agency also lists cigarettes as the No. 1 source of beach litter, noting it can take up to seven years for the stumps to decompose.

Marin County supervisors, responding to information from Marin Teens Against Tobacco, recently adopted a resolution calling on the film industry to give an "R" rating to any movie that has smoking in it. "It's astounding to look at the statistics and see how much kids are preyed upon," Supervisor Cynthia Murray said. "I knew it was bad, but I didn't know it was this bad." The resolution calls for a ban on any "payoffs" film producers might receive from tobacco companies for displaying or using cigarettes in movies, and for theaters to run anti-smoking ads before any films that include smoking or other tobacco displays.

Each year, San Francisco Pride, sponsor of the annual Gay Pride parade and celebration, runs a community-wide election for Parade Grand Marshall and also for the Pink Brick, an award to "honor" an individual or organization that has caused the most harm to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community. This year, the California LGBT Education Partnership nominated tobacco giant RJ Reynolds for its "freedom to marry/freedom to inhale" ad for American Spirit cigarettes (Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger won the award for his veto last year of California's same sex marriage legislation.) The LGBT Partnership notes that American Spirit, Camel, Lucky Strike and other cigarette brands have been shamelessly targeting the LGBT community since 1992, unapologetically co-opting LGBT culture and imagery for their own profits. Smoking rates in the LGBT community are significantly higher than for the general population, thanks to the marketing techniques.

Tobacco Prevention Coalition Meeting
Thursday, May 18 10 a.m.- noon
IBEW, 1875 Arnold Drive, Martinez
Strategies to Build a Smoke-free Contra Costa County

The Tobacco Prevention Project has released a paper entitled Policy Options for Reducing Secondhand Smoke Exposure Among Contra Costa Residents and Workers and for Improving Public Health. The paper discusses numerous policy options for protecting residents from secondhand smoke exposure. Call Denice Dennis, Tobacco Prevention Project, at 925-313-6825 for more information.

A farewell and great appreciation to Charlotte Dickson, Policy Coordinator for the Tobacco Prevention Project since 1998. Charlotte worked with the Tobacco Prevention Project from the development of a Tobacco Free Youth Ordinance at the county level through its adoption in 17 Contra Costa cities. More recently she spearheaded efforts to implement the Tobacco Retailers Licensing Ordinance, and has provide technical assistance on it to many communities across the state. Congratulations to Charlotte in her new position as the manager for the Obesity and Diabetes Prevention Project, Community Wellness & Prevention Program in Contra Costa Health Services.

The Tobacco Prevention Project welcomes Ellie Payne as the newest staff under the Promoting Smoke Free Families Project. Funded through First 5 Contra Costa, the PSFF Project will be focusing the next year on work with prenatal care providers to reduce smoking and secondhand smoke exposure among pregnant women.

The City of Calabasas, CA recently passed a law prohibiting smoking in all public places in the entire city. Smoking is permitted in residential property, and commercial malls may apply for a permit to establish "smoking outposts" in unenclosed areas away from pedestrian traffic.

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR), a national member-based lobbying organization headquartered in Berkeley, just celebrated a remarkable 30-year anniversary. According to ANR Executive Director Cynthia Hallett, when ANR began promoting legislation to restrict smoking in workplaces and public places, it was content to settle for creating smoking and nonsmoking sections. But when the 1986 Surgeon General's Report on Passive Smoking reported that the simple separation of smokers and nonsmokers was not sufficient to protect nonsmokers from the hazards of secondhand smoke, ANR shifted its policy goal to seeking 100% smoke-free environments. In the late 1980s, ANR also played a pivotal role in legislation that eliminated smoking on airplanes. Congratulations! More information is available at or call 510-841-3045.

Landman Tobacco Document Research and Consulting of San Francisco comments on a joint project by national pharmacy chain Rite Aid and the American Heart Association to focus on heart disease in women. Ann Landman says Rite Aid is touting its "healthy heart" campaign in its store window. One problem: the largest control risk factor for heart disease (more than diet) and half the tobacco-induced deaths are due to smoking. Rite Aid has a long history of working with the tobacco industry. And while Rite Aid knows that cigarettes cause heart disease, they signed an agreement with another tobacco industry powerhouse Brown & Williamson holding Rite Aid harmless against legal action taken for damages, illness, or personal injury arising from selling cigarettes. View Rite Aid's "healthy heart" campaign online at

The number of cigarettes sold in the United States in 2005 fell to the lowest level in 55 years, Reuters reports. According to federal tobacco tax figures, cigarettes sales slid 4.2% from 2004 levels in the largest one-year percentage decrease since 1999. Nevertheless, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still says that tobacco addiction is the U.S.'s greatest cause of preventable death, killing approximately 440,000 Americans each year from lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and other tobacco-caused diseases.

Most people know that Dana Reeve, wife of the late Superman star Steve Reeve, died recently of lung cancer, but media accounts of the tragedy failed to mention the link between her exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) and the lung cancer that killed her. One medical expert, Dr. Michael Fiore, Director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention has stated that the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among those who don't smoke is SHS. Fiore says we have a cure for lung cancer: Eliminate tobacco smoke. Fiore says 95% of lung cancer is directly caused by tobacco smoke. Fiore chaired the Public Health Service committee to develop the 5As of smoking cessation counseling.

And speaking of secondhand smoke, New Jersey resident Vincent Rennich, a casino table games supervisor for the past quarter century, recently told his story at a hearing on extending smoke-free workplace protection in that state. He was diagnosed with lung cancer, even though he had never smoke tobacco. "This diagnosis came as quite a shock. It seemed pretty clear that this was the result of being exposed to secondhand smoke. I, and the tens of thousands of my colleagues have been in harms way far too long. We shouldn't have to choose between our health and our jobs."

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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