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Youth Protest Long's Cigar Promotion

For Release June 19, 1998
Contact: Lisa Bautista Rivera 925-313-6822

While some people are still scratching their heads about what gifts to get for Father's Day, a group of Contra Costa youth activists is sure what they won't be getting their dads.

TIGHT - Tobacco Industry Gets Hammered by Teens - will be picketing Long's Drug Store in Walnut Creek (1123 S. California Blvd at Olympic) from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday to protest the store's promotion of cigars for Father's Day. They want to encourage other Contra Costans not to be deceived into thinking cigars would make a good gift. Last week, a group of Bay Area health officials issued a statement condemning the drug chain for a similar marketing effort in Petaluma.

"We think it is really awful for Long's to promote cigars as something wonderful, something we should think seriously about getting our fathers as presents. Don't they know tobacco kills? Why would we want to give our fathers something that's bad for their health?" says Lisa Bautista-Rivera, Youth Coordinator for TIGHT, a coalition of youth and adults.

Bautista-Rivera says TIGHT is upset that Long's markets itself as caring about the community's health on one hand, while glamorizing cigarettes and cigars. Besides objecting to the cigar promotion being held this week-end, she says her group is also concerned that the drug chain won't lock their cigarette packs up behind the counter where youth would be less likely to be able to buy them.

"We're asking merchants like Long's to work with us. We want to protect our community against tobacco. The big tobacco companies try to make cigars look like something much safer than cigarettes. We know that isn't true and we want Long's to help us warn people that all forms of tobacco can kill," says Bautista-Rivera.

TIGHT went to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors earlier this week to speak in favor of drafting a Tobacco Free Youth Ordinance that would require merchants to sell tobacco products only from locked displays. The ordinance could also ban tobacco advertising within 1600 feet of schools, playgrounds and youth centers, ban the sale of tobacco gear to youth and require a licensing arrangement that would penalize merchants who sell to minors. The Board voted unanimously to request that such an ordinance be drafted.

"We hope our action at Long's will remind people how the tobacco industry tries to trick them and that communities like ours can fight back," says Bautista Rivera.