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Youth to Help Merchants Comply with New Ordinance

For Release: January 9, 1998
Contact: Charlotte Dickson 925-313-6216

A group of youth in Contra Costa County who helped get a tough anti-tobacco ordinance passed last month are offering to help merchants comply with the new restrictions.

TIGHT -Tobacco Industry Gets Hammered by Teens- a youth mobilization project, is making the rounds of tobacco retailers, starting in East County, to let store owners know what they have to do to comply with the new ordinance.

"We believe the local store owners want to do the right thing. Now we want to help them obey the new laws. We hope we can all be on the same team," says Jimmy Karadais, a youth coordinator for TIGHT. He and a group of teens are scheduled to take written information out to stores beginning Saturday January 16.

According to Charlotte Dickson, the Policy Coordinator for the county's Tobacco Prevention Project, the new law bans outdoor tobacco advertising or tobacco advertising visible from the outdoors within 1600 feet of elementary and secondary schools and public playgrounds in the unincorporated areas of Contra Costa. It also requires that tobacco products be sold only from locked cases. The ordinance also bans the sales, distribution and marketing of tobacco gear to minors. (For more information, call 925-313-6216)

"The community has waited a long time for this law to pass. Now it is time for us all to be sure stores in our communities understand it," says Dickson, adding that the ordinance was passed by the Board of Supervisors to restrict youth access to tobacco products and reduce tobacco advertising targeting youth.

Dickson says merchants will also be sent letters informing them of the new law. Her agency and the American Lung Association of Contra Costa/Solano will be conducting a number of merchant education efforts in the next few months to be sure all retailers know what they have to do.

"We want to be sure they are in compliance, because the penalty for not obeying the law is licensing," says Dickson. Once a retailer is required to get a license, subsequent violations could mean the loss of the license and of the privilege to sell tobacco to anyone.