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Los Altos Earns 'B' for Tobacco Compliance & Preventing Sales To Youth

File photo/Wikimedia.
File photo/Wikimedia.
Santa Clara County and its cities continue to make the grade in the ninth and final year of the tobacco report card, with Los Altos earning a "B." 

The Tobacco Free Coalition of Santa Clara County and Community Advocate Teens of Today, in partnership with theSanta Clara County Public Health Department, last week released the results of the 2013-2014 Community’s Health on Tobacco Report Card.

The goals of the Community’s Health on Tobacco Report Card are to provide recommendations to cities on impactful activities that can reduce youth access and exposure to tobacco, and ultimately prevent use and addiction to tobacco products, particularly among youth in the County. 

It is a tool used to grade each jurisdiction in the following areas: enforcement of tobacco sales laws, particularly tobacco sales to minors, level of retailer compliance with federal, state, and local tobacco laws, and strength of local tobacco-control policies to prevent youth access to tobacco.

Santa Clara County received an “A” along with the cities of Campbell, Mountain View, San Jose, Saratoga, Morgan Hill and Milpitas. 

The following cities in Santa Clara County received a “B,” including Los Altos, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Palo Alto, Los Gatos, and Santa Clara, except the City of Gilroy, which is currently under severe budget constraints, was unable to complete an adequate number of decoy operations.

“We commend each city and enforcement staff in Santa Clara County for their continued work in keeping our youth safe from tobacco products,” said Santa Clara County Board of SupervisorsPresident Mike Wasserman. “Keeping tobacco away from youth can ultimately help prevent the devastating harm to health and addiction that so often results from tobacco use.”

“Although this will be the final year of the Community’s Health on Tobacco Report Card, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department will sustain the partnerships that have been built as a result of this project,” said Santa Clara County Public Health Director Dan Peddycord. “We will continue to work with cities to ensure young people in our communities are protected from tobacco products, and stay healthy.”

Tobacco prevention activities are also included in the new Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community campaign, which is a statewide collaborative effort involving tobacco prevention, alcohol prevention, and nutrition partners. 

The goal is to improve the health of Californians through making positive changes in community stores.

[See the Report Card results here.]

Tobacco Retail Licensing is a major component of the report card project and will continue to be a primary strategy for the Public Health Department. Over just the past four years, there have been a total of four tobacco retail license ordinances adopted. 

Unincorporated Santa Clara County became the first jurisdiction in the County to implement a tobacco retail license in 2010, followed by San Jose (2011), Campbell (2012), and most recently, Morgan Hill (2014). 

They all require tobacco retailers to obtain an annual local license, however Morgan Hill included electronic smoking device retailers in their ordinance. 

Additionally, the County recently amended their ordinance to include electronic smoking device retailers.

“Having a tobacco retail license in our City gives us the authority to effectively enforce tobacco laws, including holding retailers responsible for illegal tobacco sales to minors,” said City of Morgan Hill Mayor Steve Tate.

“Consistent enforcement of tobacco sales to minors is a significant activity which helps to determine compliance with laws as it relates to keeping tobacco products out of the hands of youth,” said Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing. “Making sure we are enforcing laws against the sale of tobacco to minors is a crucial step in creating a healthy community.”

Youth volunteers involved in local tobacco control efforts specifically noted that upon entering most convenience stores and other retail outlets they feel bombarded with product marketing for unhealthy items like tobacco, junk food, and alcohol. 

The items are often prominently placed in bright appealing packages boasting candy or fruit flavors and are very inexpensive.

A total of 394 tobacco retailers, 20 of which sold tobacco to youth, throughout Santa Clara County have been reached due to the hard work of law enforcement staff in each of the 14 jurisdictions, including in the unincorporated areas of the County over the last year.

About the Tobacco-Free Communities Program

Since 1989, Santa Clara County Tobacco-Free Communities (TFC) mission is to improve the health of all residents in Santa Clara County by reducing illness and premature death attributed to the use of tobacco products. 

Funded through the California Proposition 99, TFC educates local people, businesses, organizations and schools about local tobacco control policies and available quit resources.

For more information about Tobacco-Free Communities or to learn more about Tobacco Retail Licensing, please visitwww.sccphd.org/tobacco

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