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Contra Costa Health Services


A Project Update From The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project

January/February 2008

The East Bay Smokefree Housing Project of the American Lung Association reports that Stoneman Village, a seniors multi-unit housing residence in Pittsburg, recently adopted a smoke-free policy for its 205-unit property. The policy includes no smoking inside the Village buildings, including individual units. (Current smoking residents are grandfathered in until January 2009.) There is also no smoking within 20 feet of doorways. Stoneman Village intends to make the entire outside property smokefree in January 2009.

The Oakland City Council approved its new secondhand smoke ordinance December 4, effective immediately. It prohibits smoking in outdoor dining, service or recreation areas, such as bus stops, ticket lines, parks and trails as well as common areas of attached housing. A letter informing all Oakland business licensees of the new provisions will be included in the annual business license renewal packet sent out to 54,000 current licensees. Also, the new Landlord Disclosure requirement is being incorporated into a mandatory "Notice" document which informs tenants of their rights. Efforts by the youth advocacy group Friday Night Live to make bus stops smokefree propelled the council into passing this sweeping new set of provisions, and they will be working to assist the city in implementation of the smoke-free bus stop requirement.

Californians rang in the New Year with the new "Smoke-free Cars with Minors" law, which prohibits smoking in a motor vehicle when a minor (17 years old and under) is present. Violation is punishable by a fine of up to $100. Studies of secondhand smoke exposure have shown that levels of secondhand smoke caused by one person smoking in a car can make the air inside the vehicle up to 10 times more toxic than the level the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says is hazardous for breathing. The Tobacco Control Section of the California Department of Public Health is conducting an educational campaign on the new law that includes every agency it funds as well as numerous advocacy groups and government agencies. Information about the new law is also available at or by calling Denice Dennis at 925-313-6825.

Two major health systems operating in the Bay Area went completely smoke-free in recent weeks. While many of the Kaiser Permanente facilities have been smoke-free for some time, a new national smoke-free policy now prohibits smoking at all Kaiser Permanente facilities, including outdoor areas, beginning January 1. Kaiser Permanente employees and members are no longer permitted to smoke on Kaiser Permanente property, even in areas which had previously been designated for smoking. Likewise, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center banned cigarette smoking and all tobacco products at their facilities in Berkeley and Oakland. That means smokefree campuses at the Herrick and Alta Bates Campuses in Berkeley and at the Merritt, Providence and Peralta facilities in Oakland.

The University of California San Francisco Library and UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education are currently hosting an exhibit of historic cigarette advertising and promotional items. Titled "Not a Cough in a Carload: Images from the Tobacco Industry's Campaign to Hide the Hazards of Smoking," the exhibit tells the story of how, between the late 1920s and the early 1950s, tobacco companies used false medical claims and deceptive imagery to reassure the public of the safety of their products. The exhibit will run through February 29. It is located on the fifth floor of the UCSF Library at 530 Parnassus Ave.

The UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education is also inviting applications for fellowships in policy-relevant tobacco control research. Completed applications are due January 31 for fellowships beginning July 1. For an application or more information, contact the program assistant at or 415-476-0140. Applicants can learn more at the Center's website:

Tobacco Prevention Coalition Meeting
Thursday, January 31, 10 a.m. to noon
IBEW Building, 2nd floor classroom, 1875 Arnold Drive, Martinez
Call 925-313-6825 to RSVP or for more information.

A celebration and press conference were held recently by California state health officials for the ten-year anniversary of smoke-free bars in California. "Our efforts to address the dangers of secondhand smoke in California began over a decade ago," noted Kimberly Belshé, Secretary of California's Health and Human Services Agency. When the law was instituted in 1998, California was the first state in the nation to ban smoking in bars. Other speakers at the event in Los Angeles County included Senator Jenny Oropeza, director of the California Department of Public Health Mark Horton and environmental health scientist Dr. Neil Klepeis.

A new report documents how the tobacco industry has influenced California politics with increased campaign contributions and thwarted effective smoking prevention and legislation that would diminish tobacco sales, including legislation for research on tobacco illnesses. This is despite the passage of ballot propositions by the voters setting aside money for such purposes. The Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine released the 151-page report, titled "Tobacco Control in California 2003-2007: Missed Opportunities." The study concludes that successes in tobacco control in California now are started by local activism and voter initiatives, with statewide legislation only following this lead. The entire report can be downloaded at

A recent study conducted by RTI International and funded by the American Legacy Foundation found that the nation's Medicaid system could save nearly $9.7 billion within five years if all Medicaid-using smokers quit smoking. The report, titled "Saving Lives, Saving Money II", found that effective smoking prevention and cessation programs could cut Medicaid costs by 5.6 %. The study examined how much Medicaid programs would save over the course of young smokers' lives if they never smoked. Medicaid spending for current smokers ranges from $15 million in Wyoming to $1.5 billion in New York.

New studies further strengthen the scientific case for R-rating future smoking in U.S. films to protect younger children exposed primarily to G/PG/PG-13 movies and to stem the global tobacco epidemic now killing 5 million a year. A decade of research has established that mainstream U.S. movies are one of the most important channels recruiting adolescent smokers in the United States. Now, a study following German students ages 10 to 16 for two years finds that, after controlling for other influences, the more smoking they see on screen, the more likely they are to try smoking. The studies were funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the Ministry of Health of the Federal Republic of Germany. They found that, just as in the U.S., teens with the highest exposure to Hollywood films with tobacco were twice as likely to become smokers as those with the lowest exposure.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company has reportedly discontinued print advertising of its cigarette brands as of January 1. The American Legacy Foundation and more than 45 other public health groups joined together this summer to draw attention to Camel No.9 and call on R.J. Reynolds to remove the product from store shelves. Public health leaders maintain Camel No. 9 is plainly targeted to teen-age girls and young women. Reynolds has not yet announced what it will do with the money previously dedicated to print advertising, but the company has made it clear that it will continue to spend billions of dollars annually marketing its products. In 2005, the most recent year for which figures are available, the tobacco industry spent more than $13 billion marketing its products in the United States.

Health officials reported recently that smoking among New York City's teenagers had continued to drop in 2007 at a rate faster than among adults in the city, and is now far lower than teenagers nationwide. The drop was due mainly to high cigarette taxes and curbs on public smoking, officials said. In a survey of students in city public high schools, the smoking rate among students in the ninth to twelfth grades dropped to 8.5 % in 2007 from 17.6 % in 2001. The most recent national rate among teenagers is 23 %. Moreover, while adult smoking in the city has dropped 20 % during the same period, teenage smoking has dropped 52 %, officials said. "And the strongest statistical predictor of kids smoking is their parents smoking," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the commissioner of the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which conducted the survey.

The German state of Bavaria has approved plans to introduce the country's toughest smoking restrictions, passing legislation that should see Munich's famed Oktoberfest go smoke-free. The partial ban on smoking in the southeastern state took effect January 1, the latest piece in an expanding patchwork of smoking restrictions in what has traditionally been one of western Europe's most nictotine-friendly countries. Smoking is now banned there in bars, restaurants, discos and state offices.

France has continued implementing a phased smoking ban that expanded January 1 to bars, restaurants, discos, hotels, casinos and cafes. The ban began last February in workplaces, schools, airports, hospitals and other "closed and covered" public places like train stations. Other European countries such as Italy, Spain, Belgium, Britain and Ireland already have smoking bans in place.

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 07-10 with the California Department of Public Health, Tobacco Control Section.

Content provided by the Tobacco Prevention Project of Contra Costa Health Services.

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