Is that really nicotine in all those candy flavored pens dangling from the mouths of Marin youth?
Marin County Public Health and Marin schools are jointly launching a new educational awareness campaign to educate youth about the dangers of electronic cigarettes or ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems otherwise known as vaping or aerosolized products). The program is being launched this week to honor Great American Smoke-Out, an American Cancer Society event that occurs on the third Thursday of November each year by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day.
The rapid increase in the numbers of school aged youth using e-cigarettes and other devices is of concern to local health officials. “Some students are inhaling nicotine out of e-hookah devices that look like ordinary pens. Parents may not be aware of the high concentrations of nicotine and poisons that are in those e-hookah pens,” said Lisa Schwartz of the Marin County Office of Education (MCOE) which launched a new 12 minute film to educate youth about the dangers of nicotine addiction through e-cigarettes, e-hookahs, and cigarettes. The film, called “E-Cigarettes and Nicotine Nightmares,” will be released to all schools this week and will be shown in all Marin middle and high schools during the current school year.
The film features local youth and physicians. Dr. Matt Willis said: “As the Marin County Public Health Officer, and a parent, “I am very concerned about how many young people mistakenly think that e-cigarettes and hookahs are healthy alternatives to harmful tobacco use. Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances out there. We know that this is essentially a way that tobacco companies that have lost revenues from losing smokers both through premature death and from public health awareness of the harm of smoking are now trying to find new audiences and new customers for their products. It is a way of getting nicotine into the community and they’re marketing it especially towards young people. If a young person gets addicted to nicotine that is someone that will participate in purchasing their product for years.” In addition to the idea of youth starting a life-long addiction to nicotine, health experts are concerned about the toxic chemicals that aerosol the nicotine vapor into the lungs, such as propylene glycol (anti-freeze used in cars).
According to Larry Meredith, PhD, Director of Marin County Health and Human Services (HHS), “Vaping from electronic devices rates among middle and high school students have more than doubled in one year. One National Centers for Disease Control study showed that 76.3% of students using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days had also smoked cigarettes. Youth are attracted to these electronic vaping nicotine delivery toys, which come in candy flavors and have a ‘techno appeal’ as they plug into computers just like their cell phones and iPods. High doses of nicotine very quickly addict youth. These ‘e-liquids,’ the key ingredients in e-cigarettes, are powerful neurotoxins that can cause vomiting and seizures and even be lethal.” Calls to the California Poison Control center related to electronic nicotine delivery systems have more than quadrupled in the last two years and continue to rise.
“We are discouraged by the high rates of both tobacco and electronic nicotine devices, yet we are pleased that we can offer a locally developed film of Marin youth to show the side of nicotine addiction that young people never see in the ads by these companies,” said Mary Jane Burke, Superintendent of Marin County Schools. School counselors and nurses reported increased use by Marin youth.
Jennie Cook, Smoke-Free Marin Coalition Chair, said: “The Coalition is collaborating with Marin HHS and the Marin County Office of Education to reach out to local jurisdictions and school districts to encourage them to adopt policies to treat the use of these electronic vaporizing products as they would tobacco use. The concern is for our youth. Just as we were reversing the youth smoking rates, the tobacco and vaping industries came back with these products to get new customers, and we have to start all over again.”
Marin Voice: Tobacco has costs even if you don't smoke
By Jennie Cook
POSTED: 11/02/2014 05:39:17 PM PST
Each Marin resident, including nonsmokers, shells out $551 for the cost of smoking, according to a county-by-county report on the costs of smoking in California, recently completed by University of California at San Francisco researchers Drs. Wendy Max and Hai-Yen Sung.
The cost of smoking is $4,814 per smoker. The total cost of smoking to residents of Marin is $138.3 million. This report did not conduct a Marin-specific smoking prevalence survey, but the last Marin-specific survey conducted by the California Tobacco Control Program showed that 7.3 percent of adults in our county still smoke.
This report shows that we still have a lot of work to do to reduce smoking. According to the report, the total cost of smoking in California in 2009 was $18.1 billion. This includes the direct health care costs and indirect costs from lost productivity due to illness and premature death.
Although we have made great progress in reducing the number of smokers in Marin and in reducing the secondhand smoke concerns, there remains much to be completed as we strive for a tobacco-free community.
The county's Tobacco Related Disease Control Program is currently working with all local jurisdictions to update their smoke-free ordinances to include: multi-unit housing smoking restrictions; e-cigarette restrictions and restricting the sale of tobacco in pharmacies. The county also provides cessation services to residents who wish to stop smoking and is actively working with behavioral health providers in an attempt to reach the population of residents with the highest smoking rates.
Marin policy leaders and residents continue to be leaders in state tobacco control secondhand smoke polices, but are behind in enacting Tobacco Retailer Licensing ordinances that would cause store owners to lose their licenses for selling tobacco to youth.
The Smoke-Free Marin Coalition has just launched a 10-year campaign to improve the health of Marin residents by educating consumers and retailers on how marketing practices influence consumption of unhealthy products and assist in making the retail environment a healthier place for Marin residents. The Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community campaign is a statewide and local collaboration between tobacco use prevention, nutrition and alcohol prevention partners.
The UCSF study is the third in a series of reports on California smoking-attributable costs funded by the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program and California Tobacco Control Program, following reports released in 1989 and 1999. In January of this year, the 50th Surgeon Generals' Report was released, noting that recent surveys monitoring trends in tobacco use indicate that more people are using multiple tobacco products, particularly youth and young adults. The percentage of U.S. middle and high school students who use electronic, or e-cigarettes, more than doubled between 2011 and 2012.
We need to monitor patterns of use of an increasingly wide array of tobacco products across all of the diverse segments of our society, particularly because the tobacco industry continues to introduce and market new products that establish and maintain nicotine addiction. Marin should be proud of the efforts and results in addressing tobacco use and secondhand smoke dangers but the fight must continue and the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition will continue its efforts to free Marin County residents of the tragic and expensive impacts of tobacco and e-cigarette use.
There are many causes of diseases out there that are not preventable, but this one is entirely preventable.
Jennie Cook of Larkspur is chair of the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition.
San Anselmo considering multi-unit residential smoking ban
Marin Independent Journal
POSTED: 10/31/2014 02:56:07 PM PDT
The San Anselmo Town Council this week reviewed a preliminary draft of a new ordinance that would ban smoking from all new and existing multi-family residences, including condominiums.
The ordinance under consideration also would apply to e-cigarettes. The council will vote on a first reading of the ordinance when it meets Nov. 25.
In recent years, several other Marin municipalities, including Novato, San Rafael, Fairfax, Larkspur and Corte Madera, have adopted similar rules outlawing smoking in multi-family units.
Marin bars tobacco sales in unincorporated area pharmacies
Action for unincorporated areas targets major retailers in Strawberry, Tam Valley
The sale of tobacco products in unincorporated area pharmacies was outlawed Tuesday by county supervisors who urged Marin's cities to join the crackdown.
The move effective Oct. 1 targets two key retail outlets, the Strawberry Safeway and the Tamalpais Valley Walgreens.
The supervisors barred tobacco sales without mentioning the county pension system's $8.7 million investment in tobacco stocks, half of it in Phillip Morris. The pension board, which includes trustees appointed by supervisors, says its job is to make money, not promote social causes.
Approval of the tobacco sales ban came swiftly on a unanimous vote amid support from speakers representing anti-smoking groups ranging from the Smoke Free Marin Coalition and American Lung Association to the Marin Pharmacists Association.
"I would encourage the coalition to start making visits to the cities and towns," advised Supervisor Susan Adams. "I have full confidence this is something that is not going to stop." The county ordinance is a "model" other jurisdictions can follow, added Supervisor Katie Rice.
The Marin ordinance drew support from West Marin Pharmacy in Point Reyes Station, which does not sell tobacco, and covers the two retail pharmacies in Strawberry and Tamalpais Valley, as well as CVS Caremark in Greenbrae. CVS Caremark, the nation's second-largest drugstore chain with nine stores in Marin, already bars the sale of cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco.
Although representatives of the Safeway and Walgreens outlets reported earlier they knew nothing about the ban, a county health department official said he informed managers of the proposal but got no response. "I didn't hear back from any of them," said Bob Curry, head of the county's tobacco-related disease control program. He asserted it makes no sense to go to a drugstore for health supplies and find tobacco for sale and noted that most pharmacies across the globe bar tobacco sales.
"How can pharmacies justify tobacco sales?" wondered Aglaia Panos, head of the Marin County Pharmacists Association. "It violates the pharmacists' code of conduct."
"My concern is mainly for the little ones of our community," added Ananya Somasekar, a sophomore at San Marin High School.
The pension system's tobacco industry investments totaled $8,667,000 this June 30. They included Philip Morris, $4,389,000; Imperial Tobacco, $2,951,000; Japan Tobacco, $1,277,000; British American Tobacco, $26,000, and Eastern Tobacco, $24,000.
Jeff Wickman, who oversees the pension system, noted the other day that the program's total stock holdings in tobacco companies this year represent just 0.44% of the investment fund. Overall, the $8.7 million Marin County Employees Retirement Association tobacco investment is down from $13.4 million last year.
Wickman noted the employee's association, or pension board, and not the Board of Supervisors, controls pension investments. At the same time, county supervisors have not offered the four trustees they appoint, or the county finance director who also serves as a trustee on the nine-member pension board, any advice on the merits of tobacco investments.
Curry joined citizens a year ago in urging the pension board to dump investments in tobacco but the trustees declined, saying they prefer "constructive engagement to divesting as a means of affecting the conduct of entities."
Last spring, Marin's tobacco investments drew fire from Novato supervisorial candidate Toni Shroyer, who asked Supervisor Judy Arnold: "Why, Judy, why?"
In other business Tuesday, county supervisors approved a $6.1 million allocation to pay for alcohol, tobacco and other drug programs as requested by the health department.
CVS/Caremark STOPS Selling Cigarettes
In a move that shows real corporate social responsibility CVS/Caremark pharmacies has announced that is it going to stop selling cigarettes. This is an important substantive move that further removes exposure to tobacco and tobacco marketing from more people's lives and will make an important contribution to reaching former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop's vision of a smokefree society.
In press accounts CVS had said that they doubt that this move will actually reduce smoking. I think that is too pessimistic an assessment. Millions of people visit their pharmacies and removing tobacco imagery will almost certainly help prevent relapse of people who are trying to quit smoking. It is also one less place (actually over 7000 less places) that former smokers will be tempted to impulse by a pack of cigarettes.
The obvious next question is what Walgreens will do. When San Francisco became the first city to prohibit the sale of cigarettes in pharmacies, Walgreens sued to try and block the law (they lost) and Walgreens still sells cigarettes in it Fisherman's Wharf (a tourist area in San Francisco; photo courtesy of Matt Springer) store because that store does not include a pharmacy. Walgreens (and every other pharmacy) needs to follow CVS's lead.
This is an important symbolic step because it further send the message that tobacco is no longer part of civilized society and reinforces the fact that the cigarette/tobacco (which are increasingly the e-cigarette companies) are not legitimate businesses. As the federal RICO lawsuit against the cigarette companies (described in our book Bad Acts) established, the companies are racketeers, who are still under court orders designed to inhibit their ongoing "enterprise" to defraud the public. No legitimate business should be selling their products, something Walmart, the world's largest purveyor of cigarettes should consider.
And this symbolism could have important impacts on smoking. We have shown both in California and nationally that young adults who don't like or don't trust the tobacco companies are much less likely to smoke and, if they smoke, much more likely to be planning to quit.
It is also significant that CVS does not sell e-cigarettes and will not sell them until the FDA provides some "guidance." This is another responsible act, since not a single e-cigarette company has submitted an application to market c-cigarettes as either smoking cessation aids or reduced risk products, despite aggressively promoting these claims.
On this count, CVS is acting much more forcefully and responsibly than the Obama Administration's FDA, which is still sitting quietly while the e-cigarette companies make these unsupported therapeutic claims that e-cigarettes are effective for smoking cessation. The FDA has the current authority right now under current law and court decisions to initiate an enforcement action to stop these unsubstantiated claims.
“State of Tobacco Control 2014” Report
Calls on California to Renew Its Commitment to Eliminate
Tobacco-Caused Death and Disease
TheState of Tobacco Control 2014grades all fifty states and the federal government on four key tobacco control policies - tobacco control and prevention spending, smokefree air, cigarette tax, and cessation coverage. In conjunction with the national report,State of Tobacco Control 2014 - California Local Gradesissues grades for all 482 cities and 58 counties in California on policies for smokefree outdoor air, smokefree housing, and reducing sales of tobacco products.
Marin Voice: Striving for a Healthier Marin
By Jennie Cook
Guest op-ed column
POSTED: 01/16/2014 07:00:00 PM PST
THE new Surgeon General's Report received high praise from the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition, which has been the key advocate to the Marin public, local elected officials and the media since 1990.
Marin's tobacco-control program has been a model for other counties, states and countries for the past 15 years. From smoke-free college campuses, outdoor cafes, bus stops, parks and beaches, to living spaces sharing walls, the Smoke-free Marin Coalition's partnership with local elected leaders has led to progressive protections for Marin residents where they live, work, learn and play.
All four of Marin's hospitals and the county Health and Human Services clinics have 100 percent smoke-free campuses. Their staff has received extensive training from the Marin Tobacco Related Disease Control Program to assist patients in quitting smoking.
Workers and visitors to Marin County can expect a clean, healthy environment, thanks to the pro-active courage of our elected officials working collaboratively with the coalition and Marin's Health and Human Services Department.
A recent study published in Preventative Medicine shows that these types of smoke-free restrictions nearly double the odds of people smoking less while also protecting non-smokers.
However, our work is not complete; there is much more to be accomplished.
Some of our local communities have not updated their ordinances to keep up with the scientific findings about second- and third-hand smoke, particularly when it comes to protecting nonsmokers who share walls and common air spaces with smokers, risking both fires and lung damage.
And there are still merchants who don't mind making a profit off neighborhood teens experimenting with tobacco. These careless merchants view the penalties of selling to youth as a business expense.
A "Tobacco Retailer License" that gives communities the power to suspend licenses to sell tobacco to repeat violators would effectively solve this problem.
Only three jurisdictions in Marin have enacted such protections for the youth in their communities.
The most potent threat to progress are the new "electronic nicotine delivery toys," also known as e-cigarettes, hookah or "vaping kits" and other devices. These products were banned in some other countries as unsafe.
Their marketers confuse young people (and others) into believing that they are healthy alternatives to tobacco. E-cigarettes look so much like cigarettes that they make smoking seem cool and socially acceptable again, potentially reversing decades of progress.
They also delay quit attempts, sustaining eternal addiction to nicotine, resulting in lives cut short after painful diseases, taking a toll on Marin families.
Not surprisingly, the tobacco companies have purchased many of the e-cigarette companies. The "wolf in sheep's clothing" is back again. This is not good for our public health.
The Smoke-Free Marin Coalition, now in its 23rd year, is launching a multiple-year public health campaign to help Marin consumers make educated choices about whether to use these toxic products.
The county's Tobacco Control Program just initiated a new 10-year project, joining forces with Alcohol Control and Nutrition advocacy groups to promote a program called "Healthy Retail Environments" so that our local neighborhood stores offer healthier choices; this will include tobacco-free pharmacies.
In addition to helping current smokers quit, enforcing current policies, and protecting youth from slavery to life-long tobacco addiction, the coalition will keep up its campaign to encourage the county's pension board from investing in stocks that support addiction, disease and early death.
To learn more about the risks of e-cigarettes and the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition's upcoming plans, visit: www.smokefreemarin.com.
Jennie Cook of Larkspur is chair of the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition.
San Rafael City Council Passes Updated Ordinance!
We are pleased to share with you a reportof a seven year smoke-free campaign that raised the standard for smoke-free legislation at the local level.
October 15, the San Rafael City Council affirmed their 5-0 vote to clear smoke from parks, bus stops, outdoor dining and downtown sidewalks where pedestrians must keep walking if they are smoking. The most significant features of this progressive ordinance are the smoke-free multi-unit housing provisions that apply to any two units sharing a wall, including duplexes, apartments, townhouses and condos. The County Tobacco Related Disease Control Program, the American Lung Association and Bay Area Community Resources are collaborating with the City of San Rafael on an implementationprogram that includes training for multi-unit housingmanagers and condo homeowners associations.
This is a huge victory for the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition, who advocated for this ordinance for over seven years, while building successful momentum in other communities. Effective strategies used by the Coalition included (1) encouraging those affected by drifting smoke to continue to speak at open time, (2) positive relationship development between the County's Tobacco Related Disease Control Program, the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition, elected officials and municipal managers and planners, and (3) effective use of scientific data around second and third hand smoke, and local data that included fire safety data-one San Rafael non-smoker had died in a smoking related condo fire and advocates presented news data of other smoking related fires that had damaged apartments and created emergency response expenses for the City of San Rafael.The Smoke-Free Marin Coalition also collaborated with environmental groups such as San Rafael Clean- a local volunteer program that collected thousands of cigarette butts from downtown areas and put them in a display for the public hearing, demonstrating how cigarette litter impacts the environment. More environmental allies were recruited during Earth Day presentations on clean air panels. Additionally, Bay Area Community Resources, a Coalition member, joined the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, educating local businesses as a fellow member, a move that led to their support of the smoke-free ordinance.These strategies and collaborations, along with friendly persistence by the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition, resulted in a very progressive ordinance that raised standards for other communities in the future.
A 4 minute video developed by Elizabeth Emerson and Kaiser Multi-Media Communications was just released and shown in one of the San Rafael City Council hearings. The video was developed for elected officials who were privileged to live in single family housing and could not relate to the suffering of nonsmoking residents living in apartments where they were constantly smoking with their neighbors without choosing to smoke: You Tube- Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing Ordinance Victory: BACR: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WbP8ysLAr4
Local news media coverage of the first hearing of the San Rafael ordinance quickly spread to other states as far away as Oregon and Texas.The following news articles from the Huffington Post and Reuters/Yahoo News provide a good overview:
Marin County Unincorporated Passes Multi-Unit Housing and Tobacco Retailer Licensing Ordinances
On Tuesday, May 22, the Marin County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 in favor of a smoke-free multi-unit housing ordinance called the "Marin County Smoke Free Air and Health Protection" ordinance, based on a model that was developed by the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition and enacted in Larkspur along with other local jurisdictions. The smoke-free multi-unit housing ordinance provides protection from drifting smoke and fire hazards for any two apartment, townhouse or condo units sharing a wall. Twenty percent of existing units in a complex can apply for an exemption, similar to Fairfax and Larkspur, however no one in those communities has applied for exemptions to smoke. The ordinance also requires disclosure of smoking units. The Board of Supervisors also enacted a Tobacco Retailer Licensing (TRL) ordinance, which provides a mechanism for the County to issue a local license to all tobacco retailers. According to Bob Curry, the County’s Tobacco Related Disease Control Program Coordinator, “Some merchants see the old, low fines as the cost of doing business. It takes just one store to addict an entire village of kids, and right now about 10% of the stores are still selling cigarettes to youth. Merchants who repeatedly sell tobacco to youth would lose their license. This will help prevent youth from starting down the road to life- long smoking addiction.”
Communities are protected by these two new ordinances include County, Unincorporated areas in West Marin, Greenbrae, Strawberry, and Marin City. A number of communities in the county still have not updated their tobacco control ordinances, (smoke-free apartments or youth tobacco access, or both). According to Pam Granger, North Coast Tobacco Programs Manager of the American Lung Association, “The Board of Supervisors have taken three actions that protect kids including the smoke free air protections in apartments, holding merchants accountable for addicting youth, and endorsing Proposition 29 which will make cigarettes more expensive which is a good deterrent to kids spending their money on tobacco, while also generating funds to help prevent youth smoking.”
The Smoke-free Marin Coalition, which has been a public health advocacy resource to local elected officials for 22 years, “will continue its efforts in all remaining Marin communities as long as youth and adults are still smoking and non-smokers are forced to inhale the smoke of other people, or risk being in a fire from someone smoking on the other side the wall,” stated Jennie Cook, Chair of the Smoke- free Marin Coalition. For more information, go to: www.smokefreemarin.com.
Health and Human Services Implements
Smoke-Free Campus Policy
TO ALL HHS STAFF FROM DR. LARRY MEREDITH, DIRECTOR
In keeping with the spirit of the HHS mission, to promote and protect the health, well being, self-sufficiency and safety of all in Marin County, the Board of Supervisors approved the implementation of a smoke-free campus policy, effective February 2012 for employees, visitors, and clients of County-owned HHS facilities. Products that cannot be smoked anywhere on the grounds of these sites include, but are not be limited to: cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, e-cigarettes; herbal cigarettes; marijuana and any other substance that is smoked.
The policy is as follows:
Smoking is prohibited within HHS-occupied County owned buildings and in all outdoor areas of HHS-occupied County owned buildings, such as parking lots, on-site bus shelters, driveways, private or County vehicles while parked at an HHS facility. HHS will provide tobacco cessation information to employees and to clients to help promote a smoke-free and tobacco-free environment. All employees, clients, peers, contractors and visitors are expected to fully support and comply with the tobacco-free policies outlined in this and related policies. Individuals who do smoke are required to walk off County property (at least 30 feet from the buildings and parking lots) in order to comply with the County resolution and so that smoke does notcreate an unhealthy zone for everyone coming or going to any HHS buildings.
Health and Human Services employees who observe members of the public are encouraged to explain the smoke-free policy and ask visitors, contractors and clients to refrain from smoking on County property. Barbier Security will aid in enforcing this policy. We also ask that you be a “good neighbor” while smoking off campus and dispose of any cigarette butts properly and refrain from using smoking products on the property of nearby businesses and residences.
The California Air Resources Board placed secondhand smoke, even in outdoor areas, in the same category as the most toxic automotive and industrial air pollutants by categorizing smoke as a toxic air contaminant for which there is no safe level of exposure. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians, smoking is the leading cause of preventable injuries and deaths from fires. According to the County’s fire-fighters, the majority of the grass fires are caused by tossed, smoldering butts. These fires can quickly escalate. Cigarette trash is one of the leading causes of litter and groundwater pollution, damaging the environment. Birds, animals, and small children have choked on cigarette butts they have picked up off the ground. http://www.cigarettelitter.org
We encourage all County employees who still struggle with the smoking habit and would like assistance or information on quitting to utilize one of the following resources: (1) County HR Employee Assistance smoking cessation programs (2) Bay Area Community Resources off- site program or (3) other programs located at:http://www.smokefreemarin.com/help.html.
All Health and Human Services employees are expected to help the public comply with this policy to protect the health and safety of others and the environment. To assist with a smooth implementation process signage has been posted to herald the clean air zones around our buildings. Thank you all for protecting the health of employees, clients and visitors. If you need further information please contact the Tobacco Related Disease Control Program at 473-3020.
Marin Voice: Take a Smoke-Free Breath Marin
By Jennie Cook
Guest op-ed column
Posted: 02/02/2012 06:00:00 AM PST
QUESTION No. 1: If a multi-million dollar corporation built an enormous, polluting smokestack spewing toxic fumes into the air next to your home, how long would it take you to picket the company, stage a protest and demand immediate action?
Question No. 2: What if it was not one giant polluting smokestack, but thousands upon thousands of little ones?
Well, it is and they're called cigarettes.
There is no safe exposure to secondhand smoke from cigarettes and tobacco. The impacts include increased risk of lung cancer, heart disease, asthma and early death.
Secondhand smoke contains hundreds of chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic, including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic ammonia and hydrogen cyanide.
The dangers are now well-known. But what's not so clear is why we are taking so long to react.
The residents of Marin, who tend to be so healthy and so health-conscious, have not done an outstanding job of protecting ourselves from the dangers of tobacco smoke — in housing restrictions, in public spaces, and in retail sales. At least not countywide.
In fact, the American Lung Association gives four of our communities a grade of "F" for smoke-free outdoor air. Novato and Larkspur have earned a respectable "B," but the others are Cs and Ds when it comes to smoke-free air around dining, in public spaces and worksites or in youth tobacco sales protection.
We would never tolerate these results for the water we drink or the food that we eat. So why in the world are we allowing others to pollute the air that we breathe — and the air our children breathe?
To be fair, we have made positive strides in the passage of stronger ordinances in Larkspur, Fairfax and Tiburon in 2011, and we are working with some other city councils to address the needs for updates to their ordinances.
We've made progress, but we can do better. And we must.
That's why the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition would like to commend the Marin County Board of Supervisors for moving forward with two important tobacco-control measures that make significant contributions to public health:
• An ordinance banning smoking in multi-unit housing. Secondhand smoke from one unit or from a common area can migrate throughout an entire building by traveling through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing and ventilation systems. While residents can prohibit smoking in their own units, adopting a smoke-free policy for apartments and condominiums will ensure that secondhand smoke does not threaten the lives and health of all residents.
• An ordinance requiring retail licensing to sell tobacco. This would require all tobacco retailers to be licensed and to pay an annual fee. It includes enforcement provisions that result in license suspension for selling tobacco products to minors.
These two actions will reduce illegal sales to children, reduce the impacts of secondhand smoke and improve health outcomes in the unincorporated areas of Marin. We urge their immediate adoption.
But there is more work to be done countywide.
The Smoke-Free Marin Coalition invites cities and towns to review their "report card" from the American Lung Association. And we invite them to work with us to enact ordinances that will not only improve their grades, but improve air quality and public health for everyone.
Smoke-free environments are popular with Marin residents. Nearly 72 percent of residents support protections for people living in apartments and condos. And 83 percent support smoke-free protections for outdoor spaces.
Let's work together to protect our kids, our health and our air. Let's make Marin smoke-free.
Now take big, deep breath ... and enjoy it.
Jennie Cook is the chair of the Smoke-free Marin Coalition. In 1964, she became a cancer survivor and has been volunteering for the American Cancer Society for well over 46 years. She also has been with California's tobacco control program since its inception in 1989.
Marin County posts poor scores in annual tobacco law 'report card'
Marin is doing a poor job of cracking down on cigarette smoking, according to a new analysis by the American Lung Association that gives the county an overall D grade on the local "state of tobacco control."
The association's annual "report card" on curbing smoking gave Belvedere, Corte Madera, Mill Valley and Sausalito failing grades, and San Anselmo a D. Getting a C score were Fairfax, Ross, San Rafael, Tiburon and the county's unincorporated area.
Although Larkspur last year enacted the toughest anti-smoking law on the books in Marin, the association's review continued to give Novato, which passed anti-smoking legislation in 2008, the county's highest rating. Novato garnered nine out of 12 points, getting a B, followed by Larkspur, also rated a B with eight points.
Pam Granger, a lung association spokeswoman, said that Novato edged Larkspur because it outlaws tobacco sales near schools and parks, while Larkspur does not. San Rafael has a similar sales restriction.
Both Novato and Larkspur outlaw smoking in apartments and condominiums with shared walls, with Larkspur's new law the strictest in that regard. County supervisors are considering a similar measure.
Novato Councilwoman Madeline Kellner noted Novato's law is "a far-reaching one" that includes a communication campaign and "systems in place between our police department and code enforcement unit to enforce" it.
Marin Supervisor Susan Adams, a nurse, noted that “the health consequences of tobacco are serious and costly" and that the county is "currently considering a series of smoking ordinance changes, one of which will strengthen protections for nonsmokers in multiunit residences, similar to what Larkspur has done."
Asked how an affluent, liberal enclave like Mill Valley could flunk a lung association tobacco survey, Mill Valley Mayor Garry Lion noted the advocacy group has a "very stringent set of grading criteria."
Lion, saying he had not seen the latest survey, added he intends to renew a call for anti-smoking legislation this year. He noted a multifaceted proposal was put on the back-burner by the City Council for more "community input" last year when a bid to outlaw smoking in condominiums and apartments spurred concern.
Failing grades posted by Mill Valley, Belvedere, Sausalito and Corte Madera, as well as marks for other jurisdictions, are based on tobacco control laws and regulations in effect as of Jan. 1, 2012 and are available at www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org.
The association study indicates Marin's mediocre showing is a slight improvement from recent years. The agency's 2010 report gave five Marin cities failing grades, while four got Ds, two received Cs and Novato got a B, one of only 11 jurisdictions statewide to receive that grade. In 2008, seven Marin cities received failing grades.
The association used the report, which gives California an overall D score, to trumpet support for the California Cancer Research Act on the June ballot, a proposal to raise the state's tobacco tax by $1 per pack. Revenues would finance treatment, prevention and cures for lung disease, heart disease and stroke, cancer, and other tobacco-related illnesses, tripling the state's funding for tobacco prevention and cessation efforts.
The association's "state of tobacco control" report card grades all 50 states and the federal government on smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free housing and reducing sales of tobacco products. Points are allocated, then totaled for an overall tobacco control grade.
California earned a D for ranking 33rd for its 87-cents-per-pack tax, far below the national average of $1.46. The state posted an F for failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and control programs.
"With very few exceptions, 2011 was an abysmal year for state tobacco control measures across the country," the association said.
Sausalito will consider making it tougher to light up cigarettes in the city as it looks to amend its smoking laws.
The City Council on Tuesday directed city staff to look at revamping the city's smoking laws, which are not as strong as those in some other communities in Marin.
The city earned an "F" grade from the American Lung Association for its policies addressing smoking in its most recent assessment. Last year the county's Department of Health and Human Services approached the city about strengthening its laws and the lung association made a presentation to the city's Parks and Recreation Commission this year along the same lines.
The city adopted its smoking rules in 1994 and they mirror state regulations that ban smoking in work places and within 20 feet of the entrance of a public building. Since then, other cities in Marin have banned smoking at public events, public areas, hotel rooms and apartment complexes, among other places.
Lung association representatives said they would like the city look at regulations to limit smoking in apartment complexes.
"Some people can only afford to live in an apartment and they shouldn't have worse air quality than someone who can afford a single-family home," Pam Granger, North Bay coordinator for the lung association, told the council. "It's about social justice. We have to make sure that everybody in Sausalito has a chance to breathe clean and healthy air."
Resident Vicki Nichols raised concerns that stricter anti-smoking rules could appear unfriendly to the thousands tourists who come to the city from other parts of the world, where smoking is sometimes more prevalent.
"How can we enforce this without being totally unfriendly?" she said. "How does it look? I don't want us to be perceived as hall monitors."
Granger said courtesy is paramount in making smoking rules work.
"That international signs with a cigarette and a line through it, that helps people," Granger said.
City staff will review potential regulations and could bring a proposed law back to the City Council at the beginning of 2012.
"We won't drag this out, that's for certain, we will expedite this," City Manager Adam Politzer told the council. "But we will get this in front of as many groups as we can before coming back to you."
Marin General Hospital Campus Goes Tobacco Free This Week
(San Rafael, October 6, 2011). This week, Marin General Hospital is eliminating all of their outdoor smoking sections in an effort to implement a 100% tobacco-free campus policy that prohibits smoking anywhere on the hospital property, including parking lots. This week, Marin General Hospital joined other hospitals in the County and many hospitals throughout California in implementing a 100% tobacco-free campus policy, including parking lots. Marin General Hospital will provide nicotine replacement lozenges in their cafeteria for patients and visitors along with information on how to quit smoking.
California hospitals have implemented indoor smoke-free policies since the 1990’s. In the past four years, hospitals throughout the state began to eliminate outdoor smoking sections, since the image of smoking patients and uniformed staff on hospital grounds was inconsistent with the health mission of a hospital. These hospitals report positive results from their new campus policies, including increases in employees quitting smoking and decrease in toxic smoke exposure to patients and visitors.
Dr. Steven Schroeder, member of Marin General Hospital Board of Directors and Director of UCSF School of Medicine, National Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, praised the upcoming policy: “We could not be more pleased with the policy announcement from Marin General Hospital. This is a great way to raise awareness about how important it is that smokers quit and that we as a community help smokers with that process by providing smoke-free environments to make it safer to prevent relapse. This is consistent with what hospitals are doing all over California and the United States. While helping smokers quit, hospitals are also protecting patients from second-hand smoke exposure and third- hand smoke particles clinging to hospital uniforms.”
Jennie Cook, Chair of the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition, also praised the policy, “Marin General Hospital has taken important steps to prevent costly readmission and to save lives. The Smoke-Free Marin Coalition applauds the hospital leadership for their commitment to the health of Marin County’s citizens.”
According to Bob Curry, Program Coordinator of the Marin County Tobacco Related Disease Control Program, Marin General Hospital’s policy decision now makes all hospital campuses in the county tobacco free: “Marin General Hospital is the largest hospital in the county, so we are very pleased that they have taken this progressive step to protect the public from second- and third- hand smoke exposure, while also helping their patients quit smoking. Anyone can receive help by contacting our program at 755-2334 or www.smokefreemarin.com. This effort by Marin General Hospital is an outstanding contribution toward the public health in Marin County.”
College of Marin Campuses Will Be Smoke Free
Cathy Summa-Wolfe, Director
Communications & Community Relations
New policy goes into effect this fall
Kentfield, Calif.—July 20, 2011—In a move to better protect the health of its students, staff, faculty, and visitors, last night at its monthly meeting the College of Marin Board of Trustees approved Board Policy 3570 prohibiting smoking on campus. Effective beginning the first day of the fall semester, August 15, 2011, COM will prohibit smoking, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, and pipes at both its Kentfield and Indian Valley Campuses. Smoking will be permitted in designated areas located in select parking lots at both campuses.
"The college is committed to the promotion of good health and wellness for its employees and students,” said Dr. David Wain Coon, Superintendent/President of COM. “Part of that commitment involves taking a role in discouraging the use of tobacco and the negative effects of both smoking and second-hand smoke.”
In preparation for the tobacco ban, COM is advising the campus and community of the new policy, as well as referring smokers to support services for those wanting to give up tobacco.
The smoke-free policy includes buildings and grounds owned or operated by COM. The new policy will apply to all persons on campus, including employees, students and visitors.
The Town of Tiburon passed an ordinance regulating secondhand smoke and limiting exposure to tobacco smoke in public areas. The ordinance, which goes into effect on August 6, 2011, creates a minimum 25 foot non-smoking buffer zone from building entrances and service lines as well as smoke-free parks and outdoor eating areas. Multi-unit housing common areas must be smoke-free with the exception of a designated smoking area. All new units must be designated as non-smoking immediately and 100% of existing units must be designated as non-smoking by July 1, 2014. Surveys show that over 86% of California residents approve such protections both outdoors and in multi-unit housing.
An online copy of the Tiburon ordinance can be found at www.smokefreemarin.com/areas.
Fairfax residents irritated by second-hand smoke in their own apartments – and, if Wednesday night’s town council meeting was any indication, there are plenty of them – may not have to worry anymore.
The Fairfax Town Council approved an ordinance yesterday that would limit smoking in multi-unit apartment buildings and in certain outdoor areas – near entrance ways to business and at bus stops, for example.
“The studies have shown that secondhand smoke and what they call thirdhand smoke can have profound health effects to folks who are exposed to it because they happen to live in a multi-unit facility,” said Mayor Larry Bragman, who brought the ordinance forward after a number of public meetings over the last year to gather input from the community.
Thirdhand smoke is the term for the tobacco residue that stays on walls, furniture and other surfaces even after a smoker leaves an area.
The ordinance initially proposed to exempt bars from requirements that would ban smoking near business entrances, but after a number of community members spoke about their concerns having to walk near areas with extensive smoking, the council decided not to exempt bars.
“Make this law tougher,” urged resident Yvette Wakefield.
The outdoor patio at Peri’s got a call out by more than one resident as an area with excessive smoking. The council discussed the possibility of urging the business to install a filtration system that would limit the amount of smoke that affected residents walking nearby.
Nearly a half dozen residents also spoke about living in multi-unit apartment complexes, near neighbors who smoke right outside their windows. Sam Rosenfield said his neighbor’s wife won’t let him smoke indoors, so the neighbor smokes out on the patio and it comes straight through Rosenfield’s window. On hot days, like this week, he has to keep the windows closed and has no air-conditioning.
The ordinance that was finally approved would require that all complexes with four units or more would be required to have 75 percent of their units designated as smoke-free and should segregate those units as much as possible. The ordinance also bans smoking in any outdoors places (unless otherwise noted) where food or drink is sold, near any entrances or exits of enclosed spaces where smoking is already prohibited, in public parks and at public events.
The council also pointed out that 75 percent was the minimum required to be smoke-free in multi-unit housing, but owners and property managers could make more units in their properties smoke-free.
“There’s no legal right to smoke,” said Pam Granger from the American Lung Association in response to questions about whether owners could ban smoking in outdoor areas in a complex.
The property manager from Sherwood Oaks Apartments said she has been working on advertising the complex as smoke-free, which has helped the quality of life in the complex, and that having the backing of the town would help her.
“This is a measured approach,” said Council Member Lew Tremaine, who had opposed the initial ordinance brought forward – arguing that it was too strident and trampled on smoker’s rights.
Fairfax now joins Larkspur and Novato as the other towns in Marin with smoking ordinances in multi-unit housing. The county is currently considering a similar ordinance.
Larkspur's Tougher No-Smoking Rules are a Healthful Measure
THE LARKSPUR City Council's decision to get tougher on the potentially harmful effects secondhand tobacco smoke is a strong step toward fostering a more healthful environment.
The City Council has given its initial OK to an ordinance that would bar residents of apartment and condominium complexes that have shared walls or ventilation systems from lighting up, unless they reside in areas specifically designated as "smoking" areas.
The overall goal is to reduce nonsmokers' involuntary exposure to the well-documented harmful health effects of tobacco smoke. If, in addition, Larkspur's law helps smokers decide to give up cigarettes and other tobacco products, so much the better. But Larkspur's law is aimed at helping make living environments healthier for those, young and old, who choose not to smoke, but are potentially exposed to sidestream smoke from neighbors who light up.
During the 1980s, then-United States Surgeon General C. Everett Koop said the choice of smokers to light up "cannot interfere with nonsmokers' right to breathe air free of tobacco smoke. The right of smokers to smoke ends where their behavior affects the health and well-being of others."
Larkspur's ordinance seeks to protect nonsmokers' rights. The goal is to protect the health of those who have made the choice to avoid the harmful health effects of smoking. Mayor Larry Chu is correct when he says the law would not be needed if neighbors used common sense.
But there are enough smokers who don't that makes a city law necessary. Larkspur's ordinance, if it wins final approval, would be stronger than the secondhand-smoke law Novato put on its books in 2008. That law allows 50 percent of the units in a complex to be designated to allow smoking.
Larkspur's ordinance provides landlords and condominium complexes with the option to set aside a section of their complex, up to 20 percent of their units, as smoking areas. This is statistically generous in a county where only 12 percent of the residents are smokers, according to a recent national study. Statewide and nationwide, the percentage of smokers is 15 percent.
The city's proposal also gives local landlords ample time to comply with the tougher no-smoking rules. Although anti-smoking advocates may consider Larkspur's ordinance overdue, it is important to consider that the city has been diligent and public in its approach.
The proposed law should not come as a surprise to tenants or property owners. The City Council has been holding meetings on the issue since October. Local residents and landlords have been given a chance to help shape the new rules.
But as Dr. Koop said three decades ago, the right of a nonsmoker trumps that of a smoker when the "right to breathe" clean air is at issue. Larkspur's law defends and protects nonsmokers' right to a healthful living space.
Domincan College Set To Be Smoke-Free
As of January 01, 2011 Domincan University of California is a smoke-free campus. For more information and assistance in becoming smoke-free visit the Student Health Center in Bertand, Room 100 or call 415-485-3208 M-F.
The Smoke-Free Marin Coalition honors the late Supervisor Charles McGlashan for being a champion for smoke-free outdoor spaces to reduce second-hand smoke exposure and to lower youth smoking rates by changing the social norm around tobacco use. While he is most remembered for his environmental initiatives, few people remember that he also stood up to the tobacco industry and that his words had an international impact. Charles McGlashan’s statement during the public hearing on the County ordinance was published in a World Health Organization training guide for the staffs of Ministers of Health of 19 countries held in Cairo, Egypt in November 2007:
“This smoke-free ordinance represents a shift to the importance of the collective will (as it pertains to health, safety and welfare) as compared to the individual abuse of free will. Humanity has entered a new era in which corporations such as the tobacco industry are held accountable for their destructive products. Humanity has reached a point where the collective free will is no longer tolerating the abuse of the individual free will when the cost becomes too great for all. Personal, political, and public will- have been fueled by growing awareness of the human right to clean air, supported by science.” Charles McGlashan, November 2006
The Smoke-Free Marin Coalition conveys condolences to Carol Misseldine, to the McGlashan family and to the County of Marin for the loss of a champion who was a courageous leader for public health as well as environmental purity.
Be sure to check out our newest section of apartments in Marin County with smoke-free considerations.
2009 State of Tobacco Control Report
The American Lung Association released the 2009 State of Tobacco Control (SOTC) Report that grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia on four key tobacco control areas: (1) Tobacco Prevention and Control Spending; (2) Smoke-free Air; (3) Cigarette Tax; and (4) Cessation Coverage.
Below are the grades for California:
Tobacco Prevention and Control Spending: F
Smoke-free Air: A
Cigarette Tax: D
Cessation Coverage: D
In conjunction with this national report, the American Lung Association in California released the 2009 SOTC California Local Grades Report that includes grades for cities and counties in California. Local grades were issued for 373 cities and 34 counties, more than 75 percent of the local jurisdictions in the state. These grades are based on standardized statewide criteria and were awarded in three categories: (1) Smoke-free Outdoor Air; (2) Smoke-free Housing; and (3) Reducing Sales of Tobacco Products. These three grades were then averaged for one Overall Tobacco Control Grade. The purpose of the SOTC Local Grades Report is to increase public knowledge about local laws that help protect residents from the deadly toll of tobacco and to encourage local leadership where improvement is needed.
To view the full reports, including national, state and local grades, please visit www.californialung.org/raisethegrade. The SOTC Local Grades Report includes the local grade details for cities and counties in California, the local grade criteria, an executive summary and a table showing the grades for the top ten most populous cities. In addition, attached is a 2009 State of Tobacco Control Q&A that provides further background information about the report, the grading criteria and why certain cities and counties did not receive grades.
Marin Independent Journal, Published November 19, 2009
Two Marin hospitals have chosen Thursday, the date of the 34th Great American Smokeout, as the day to initiate a total ban on smoking on their campuses.
It has been years since anyone was allowed to smoke inside either Novato Community Hospital or Kentfield Rehabilitation and Specialty Hospital. Beginning Thursday,those two hospitals will begin enforcing a campus-wide ban on smoking that will include property inside and outside buildings, including parking lots and vehicles in parking lots. State law banned smoking from all workplaces in 1995.
To demonstrate that it means business, Novato Community Hospital on Wednesday removed its last refuge for employees and hospital visitors who smoked, a three-sided structure affectionately known as the "smoking shack."
"We're putting signs throughout the campus so everyone knows what is happening, and if people are smoking we're nicely going to ask them not to smoke," said Mary Strebig, a spokeswoman for Novato Community Hospital.
Strebig estimated that only about a dozen of the hospital's employees smoke. To help them make the transition, the hospital planned a seminar Thursday with smoking cessation experts.
"We're going to make this as painless as possible," strebig said.
Chris Yarnovich, a spokesman for the Kentfield hospital, said special assistance is also being provided there to help people kick the habit.
Marin General Hospital is now the only hospital in the county that continues to allow smoking in outside areas. Kaiser Permanente campuses adopted smoke-free policies statewide more than a year ago.
Kathie Graham, a spokeswoman for Marin General Hospital, said that while the hospital supports smoking cessation, efforts and provides help to employees who want to quit smoking, it has chosen to focus its efforts elsewhere.
""We just finished a major renovation on the fifth floor, converting from double rooms to single rooms," Graham said. "That took a big effort on the part of many, many departments at the hospital."
Contact Richard Halstead via e-mail at email@example.com.
Novato Advance, Published: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 1:19 PM PST
Starting Thursday, smoking will be forbidden on the campus of the Novato Community Hospital.
The hospital timed its smoking ban to coincide with the day of the American Cancer Society’s annual Great American Smokeout.
The ban applies to the hospital’s entire campus, which includes two office buildings near the hospital itself.
“When you drive across the bridge, you’ve entered a smoke-free (zone),” said hospital spokeswoman Mary Strebig. Smoking will even be forbidden inside vehicles.
The idea to snuff out smoking at the hospital came from Chief Administrative Officer Anne Hosfeld. Smoke-free hospitals are a growing trend, Strebig said. It’s something that’s recommended by the commission that accredits hospitals, she said.
“We don’t see doctors smoking anymore. We have very few employees who smoke,” Strebig said.
A former bus shelter used as a "smoking hut" in the hospital’s north parking lot is being dismantled and given to a contractor who will use it as an aviary.
Twin City Times, Published: Wednesday, October 7, 2009 12:26 PM PDT
The Corte Madera Women’s Club will host a potluck lunch followed by speaker on October 13, at the Rec Center, 498 Tamalpais Drive. Lunch begins at noon, and guests are asked to bring something to share. Drinks, utensils, plates, etc. are provided by the club, and RSVPs are requested by going to 2ndTuesday@CMWomensClub.org, or calling 927-9462.
The speakers on the 13th will be Jennie Cook and Elizabeth Emerson, talking about the benefits to public health of public limits on smoking.
Cook, past chairman of the national board of the American Cancer Society, is the chair of the Marin Smoke Free Coalition. She has been a resident of Marin for 45 years and a cancer survivor since 1965. Her involvement during this time period includes tobacco control and advocacy at the local, state, national and international levels. Emerson has been working in Marin County’s Tobacco Related Disease Control Program for 19 years. She is also a Marin resident and responsible for most if not all of the actions to make Marin smoke-free.
In Marin, the county and the cities of Novato and Ross have expanded restrictions on smoking to include multihousing units. Novato’s is one of the strongest in the state and has met with unqualified success, according to Cook. Public officials hear from residents of multifamily dwellings that their lives are meaningfully improved by the elimination of second-hand smoke from their balconies and common areas. In some cases, this has even eliminated the problem of second-hand smoke entering their dwelling units through common heating or ventilation ducts.
It’s not uncommon for an elected official to hear from citizens in the community asking for help — employees leave a restaurant, for example, to take a smoke break, and end up polluting the common area of a business next door. Current regulations in our area curtail smoking within a business, but allow it around doorways and outdoor eating areas. Some jurisdictions provide a 20-foot minimum distance to an adjacent doorway where smoking is restricted.
The Marin Smoke Free Coalition would like to see all jurisdictions within Marin County expand their public health regulations to protect adjacent businesses and adjacent living units from second-hand-smoke pollution.
Cook and Emerson will describe the rationale for businesses and local governments to subscribe to greater restrictions on smoking. They will provide information on what apartment owners and shopping center management have found after additional protections have been employed. There will be opportunity for Q&A.
In a move hailed by anti-smoking advocates as a major victory in the fight to reduce tobacco-related fatalities, President Obama on Monday signed into law legislation giving the U.S. government broad powers to regulate tobacco products.
"Each day, 1,000 young people under the age of 18 become new regular, daily smokers, and almost 90 percent of all smokers began at or before their 18th birthday," Mr. Obama said before signing the legislation. "I know; I was one of these teenagers. And so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it's been with you for a long time."
The bill puts tobacco under the authority of the Food And Drug Administration, which will now regulate tobacco as a drug. A new entity within the FDA – the Center for Tobacco Products – will oversee the regulation, and it will have the power to mandate lower nicotine levels in tobacco products.
The legislation also bans candy-flavored cigarettes by October 2009, requires the full disclosure to the FDA of all ingredients and additives in cigarettes by January 2010, bans youth-focused marketing of cigarettes (including sponsorship of sporting events and clothing and cigarette giveaways), prohibits the use of misleading terms like "light" and "mild" on tobacco products by July 2010, and mandates new and stronger warning labels on tobacco products by July 2011.
Watch CBS Videos Online"Kids today don't just start smoking for no reason," the president said Monday. "They're aggressively targeted as customers by the tobacco industry. They're exposed to a constant and insidious barrage of advertising where they live, where they learn, and where they play. Most insidiously, they are offered products with flavorings that mask the taste of tobacco and make it even more tempting."
"Today, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans, health care and consumer advocates, the decades-long effort to protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco has emerged victorious," he added. "Today, change has come to Washington."
The president noted that the legislation does not ban tobacco products, thus allowing "adults to make their own choices." But he said it would mean a reduction in "the number of American children who pick up a cigarette and become adult smokers."
Still, he said, "our work to protect our children and improve the public's health is not complete."
"Today, tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death not just in America, but also in the world," said Mr. Obama. "If current trends continue, 1 billion people will die from tobacco-related illnesses this century. And so the United States will continue to work with the World Health Organization and other nations to fight this epidemic on a global basis. But no matter how long or how hard this fight may be, what's happening today gives us hope."
He added that the bill passed "despite decades of lobbying and advertising by the tobacco industry."
"We're taking another big and very important step, a step that will save lives and dollars," said Mr. Obama.
Marin's poor anti-smoking grades
By Jennie R. Cook
Posted: 01/27/2009 12:05:15 AM PST
The American Lung Association just released its 2008 State of Tobacco Control Local Grades. With a few exceptions (county areas, Ross and Novato), most Marin communities received grades of D's and F's.
This is embarrassing for a county where local communities were once national and international models for tobacco control in the past.
What happened to us while many California communities throughout the state passed us by as they updated their smoking restrictions to reflect new scientific data?
The California Air Resources Board labeled secondhand smoke in the same category as the most toxic automotive and industrial air pollutants by categorizing it as a toxic air contaminant for which no safe level of exposure exists. This much-respected scientific report, showed that even in quasi-outdoor settings, secondhand smoke presents serious health risks to all populations.
Prompted in part by this report, California communities recently began to enact laws to protect residents from unwanted smoke exposure in multiunit housing where chain smoking neighbors fill up neighboring units with carcinogenic toxins.
Out of 12 jurisdictions in Marin, Novato was the only community that took measures to restrict smoking in multiunit housing.
But while many California cities moved quickly to match their policies to the science, most of our local communities have not updated their ordinances for 16 years.
Some of these local communities have received D's and F's in the past and have not done anything to improve their public health score - a curious impasse given the scientific advances.
The county Tobacco-Related Disease Control Program stays busy answering calls from citizens, upset about unwanted secondhand smoke exposure, hoping that their town will update their old smoking law.
The second reason that Marin communities received such low grades is because only San Rafael has enacted a tobacco retailer licensing law in the past decade.
Meanwhile, over 60 California communities have enacted tough licensing ordinances to stop stores from habitually selling tobacco to underage youth.
With almost 10 percent of Marin County retailers still selling tobacco to kids, we must remember it only takes one store to addict an entire neighborhood of teens to cigarettes.
Only a licensing law will stop them from selling to underage youth, because they would lose their license if they continue this unethical business practice.
In addition to tobacco retailer licensing regulations, the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition would also like to see all Marin residents and workers receive equal protection from secondhand smoke exposure.
Right now, residents of some Marin communities enjoy much more protection from secondhand smoke because they have updated their smoke-free laws to protect residents, workers and visitors.
Our coalition, which consists of voluntary health agencies such as the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and other organizations, has been helping Marin city councils enact, implement and enforce their tobacco control laws for nearly two decades.
We will continue to support city councils in updating their public health protections. Let's not wait for the state to pass a law: Marin communities are best served with local ordinances that reflect scientific studies and the health needs of our local residents.
When the American Lung Association puts out their report next January, let's see a row of A's instead of those embarrassing D's and F's.
Maybe it is time for Marin to recapture its lead in tobacco control.
Jennie R. Cook of Larkspur is chairwoman of the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition. Recent studies and the latest report card can be found at www.smokefreemarin.com
What have you done lately?
Thank you for your Jan. 19 editorial on Marin County's grades from the American Lung Association's State of Tobacco Control report.
Marin County and cities were indeed leaders in adopting indoor workplace smoking controls well before the state of California did in 1998. However, only three cities (Novato, Ross and San Anselmo) and the county have updated their policies to somewhat mirror the abundance of scientific evidence of the harmful effects of secondhand smoke developed since that time.
When the U.S. Surgeon General declares that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and the California EPA declares secondhand smoke a toxic air contaminant, citizens demand action.
The admittedly harsh grades reflect the 2008 status of protections.
As they become more educated, the public is concerned and looks to their city government to adopt policies reflective of the current body of knowledge.
Additionally, this was a state of tobacco "control" report not a smoking report.
Marin may have a 10 percent adult smoking rate that would be below the state average of 13.6 percent, but in the absence of comprehensive policies, those 10 percent and any visitors are in position to do some significant harm to citizens in most of the cities in Marin County.
Pam Granger, TOBACCO EDUCATION AND ADVOCACY DIRECTOR, AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA ROSA
Novato passes sweeping smoking measure and sets a new standard for Marin County and the whole North Bay..!
- The uninvited presence of Secondhand smoke into any enclosed place of human habitation is a nuisance and a trespass.
- At least 50 percent of the units in existing multi-unit complexes with 10 or more units, and 75 percent of units in new multi-unit complexes, must be designated nonsmoking.
- Smoking shall be prohibited in any place where food and/or drink is offered for sale, including outdoor dining areas of restaurants.