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Contra Costa Health Services


A Project Update From The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project

June/July 2006

After hearing testimony last month from Jamie Jenett (American Cancer Society), Serena Chen (American Lung Association), Joel White (Tobacco Prevention Coalition co-chair) and Bonnie Monares ( Blackhawk Plaza Management Company), the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to direct staff to write an ordinance extending protection from secondhand smoke exposure. The ordinance would ban smoking in public parks, common areas of multi-unit housing units, public event venues, public trails, public service areas such as ATM lines or bus stops, outdoor eating areas and within 20 feet of all business doorways and ventilation units. The ordinance will go back to the Board's Family and Human Services Committee and then to the full Board for a vote as early as July 25. The proposed provisions of the ordinance and resolutions of support for agencies and organizations are available online at

The Board of Supervisors also voted to direct Contra Costa Health Services to adopt a smoke-free campus policy for the Regional Medical Center (CCRMC) and all county Health Centers. This would make CCRMC the second health system in the county to adopt such a policy. Kaiser Permanente Diablo Valley Service Area adopted a smoke-free campuses policy in February. Health care organizations interested in smoke-free campuses at their sites can call the Tobacco Prevention Project at 925-313-6214 for resource material.

U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona has issued a comprehensive scientific report, the Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, which concludes there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke indoors increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25-30% and lung cancer by 20-30%. Nearly half of all nonsmoking Americans are still regularly exposed to secondhand smoke. The report, the first from the Surgeon General on secondhand smoke since 1986, finds that even brief secondhand smoke exposure can cause immediate harm and that the only way to protect nonsmokers from the dangerous chemicals in secondhand smoke indoors is to eliminate it. "The health effects of secondhand smoke exposure are more pervasive than we previously thought," said Surgeon General Carmona. "The scientific evidence is now indisputable: secondhand smoke... is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults." The report finds that even the most sophisticated ventilation systems cannot completely eliminate secondhand smoke exposure and that only smoke-free environments afford full protection. The report says people are exposed to secondhand smoke at home, in the workplace, and in other public places such as bars, restaurants, and recreation venues. "It is harmful and hazardous to the health of the general public and particularly dangerous to children. It increases the risk of serious respiratory problems in children, such as a greater number and severity of asthma attacks and lower respiratory tract infections, and increases the risk for middle ear infections. It is also a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). Inhaling secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and coronary heart disease in nonsmoking adults." To help communicate the report findings as widely as possible, the Surgeon General unveiled an easy-to-read guide with practical information on the dangers of secondhand smoke and steps people can take to protect themselves. Copies of the report and related materials are available on the Surgeon General's Web site at

Tobacco Prevention Coalition Meeting
Thursday, July 20, 10 a.m.- noon
IBEW Local 302, 1875 Arnold Drive, Martinez
"Working Toward a Smoke-Free Contra Costa County"

The Contra Costa Tobacco Prevention Project is recruiting a Policy Coordinator to work as the lead person on all policy-related functions, including campaigns to prevent tobacco use, and on enforcement for compliance for existing policies. Exciting policy initiatives have always happened in Contra Costa, which enacted the very first uniform restriction on restaurant smoking and one of the toughest youth access and advertising ordinances in the country. Submit a letter of interest and resume to the Tobacco Prevention Project Manager Denice A. Dennis, MPH, c/o

The Tobacco Prevention Project welcomes Candice Zimmerman, MPH, and Elizabeth (Ellie) Payne, MPH, to the Promoting Smokefree Families Project (PSFF). They will be working on training prenatal clinic providers in smoking cessation and secondhand smoke exposure counseling among pregnant moms. In a recent 11 month period, the project worked with Comprehensive Perinatal Service Program (CPSP) providers throughout the county to improve birth outcomes by reducing tobacco use and exposure during pregnancy, screening 945 pregnant women for secondhand smoke exposure and tobacco use. Of these women, 84 received counseling to quit through the California Smoker's Helpline and 90 women who quit when they learned they were pregnant received support to prevent relapse. Additionally, 112 women exposed to secondhand smoke during their pregnancy received an intervention to promote a smoke-free environment for themselves and their babies. Four clinics with Medi-Cal eligible prenatal patients have successfully implemented the intervention to increase tobacco cessation and reduce secondhand smoke exposure: Antioch Medical Park, La Clinica in Pleasant Hill, Richmond Health Center, and Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. By next July, the project expects that all major CPSP providers in Contra Costa will be trained on this protocol. PSFF is funded through First 5 Contra Costa. For more information, call Elizabeth (Ellie) Payne at 925-313-6218.

According to Reuters, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, parental smoking remains a serious public health issue. The effects of smoking during pregnancy last up to age 12, while exposure to cigarette smoking after birth further worsens lung function, said researchers at the Medical University in Vienna. The study said it is difficult to tell whether the impairment of lung function resulting from prenatal and early life exposure is permanent, given that many individuals with parents and siblings who smoke will have started smoking themselves by their teen years. Researchers analyzed results from 22,712 children in eight countries.

California Assemblymember Paul Koretz gutted and amended AB 379 recently to reintroduce legislation banning smoking in cars where children are present. Known as the Marco Firebaugh Memorial Children's Health and Safety Act of 2006, the proposed legislation would make it an infraction to smoke in a car when a young child is present. It would apply to children required to ride in child safety seats - those who are less than six years old or 60 pounds. The bill also requires the state to conduct a public education campaign on the dangers of secondhand smoke in confined spaces, with special emphasis on children. The Department of Motor Vehicles would have to include information about the law in the California Driver's Handbook. This bill is very similar to AB 894, introduced in 2004 by Assemblymember Marco Firebaugh, who died March 21, 2006.

The Ottawa Citizen reported several months ago about Ottawa waitress Heather Crowe. The single mother worked for 40 years in local pre-smoke-free restaurants, sometimes pulling three shifts a day to support herself and her daughter. She never smoked a cigarette, but in 2002, she was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. She launched a crusade, successfully fighting for full worker's compensation and telling Canadians she wanted to be the last person to die of secondhand smoke in the workplace. The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which took effect on May 31, makes all workplaces and places open to the public in the province, including bars, restaurants and casinos, smoke-free. Heather Crowe died last month just before the new law rolled out.

Joining a handful of cities around the country, the Dublin City Council in nearby Alameda County voted 3-2 last month to create an ordinance that would make it easier for residents with complaints against neighbors' smoking to take their cases to small claims court. It will not be a ban on smoking but will reduce the burden of proof when taking the neighbor to small claims court over secondhand smoke issues.

The British medical weekly The Lancet has blasted the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) for letting the World Cup be sponsored by makers of booze, fast food and soda. The international football federation was also scolded for backpedaling from a ban on lighting up in stadiums, and for allowing branded tobacco paraphernalia as official merchandise. "Sponsorship with corporations selling alcohol, fast food or sugary drinks can clearly complicate the health equations of individual sports and events," wrote public health experts Jeff Collin of the University of Edinburgh and Ross MacKenzie of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. They point out that the World Cup has a history of controversial sponsorship.

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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