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Contra Costa Youth Mobilizing to Fight Tobacco

For Release: April 3, 2007
Contact: Julie Freestone 925-313-6268

Vowing to keep the tobacco industry from hooking more youth, a group of Contra Costans are mobilizing to develop plans of action to fight back.

TIGHT, the Tobacco Industry Gets Hammered by Teens, has scheduled a meeting on Thursday, April 23 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. at the County East Mall, 2556 Somersville Road, Antioch (in the Kids Connection Room near Disc Jockey Records) to decide the best strategy for reducing the impact of tobacco on Contra Costa youth. Similar meetings will be conducted in the upcoming months in other areas of the county.

"It may sound strange that a small group of people think they can take on a giant industry that includes huge companies like Philip Morris and R J Reynolds, but we believe we can make a difference in our local communities," says Lisa Bautista Rivera, the TIGHT Youth Coordinator. TIGHT is funded with Proposition 99, tobacco-tax funds, through the Contra Costa Health Services Department.

Rivera says TIGHT has been taking photos and doing surveys to demonstrate how easy it is for youth to get tobacco products and how pervasive advertising shows smoking to be glamorous and healthy. They have recruited hundreds of volunteers to work with them.

"Now it's time for us to take action," says Bautista-Rivera. "We want local policy makers to join with us to give the tobacco industry a really clear message. We won't tolerate the tobacco companies manipulating youth and encouraging us to use tobacco."

She predicts the April 23rd meeting and the other sessions that follow will bring together dozens of concerned residents to examine the unique problems in their communities and plan ways to get attention for the solutions.

"We know there are things that can be done. Other communities in California are already taking action. They're passing ordinances requiring tobacco products be locked up behind the counter. They're banning tobacco advertising in areas where youth hang out. We want the same protection here in Contra Costa County."

Bautista Rivera says TIGHT has been encouraged by the reaction of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, which is considering a Tobacco-Free Youth Ordinance. TIGHT has presented information to them and has been well received.