Tag Archives: California

Secondhand smoke is a women’s issue

Guest Blogger – Jaime Jenett, MPH, Policy Coordinator, Contra Costa Tobacco Prevention Project

Worldwide, 40% of women are exposed to secondhand smoke regularly. Secondhand smoke doesn’t only make us sick, it’s killing us. Women make up 47% of the 600,000 annual secondhand smoke deaths throughout the world, compared to 26% men.

I always found secondhand smoke irritating but I never knew how dangerous it is until I started working in tobacco control. I didn’t know this toxic substance can actually trigger cardiac events in people with heart disease or that even low levels are harmful.

The majority of the secondhand smoke complaint calls I take as part of my job are from women. They usually call because secondhand smoke is drifting from a neighboring apartment or condominium. Many of the women and their children have health issues that are being made worse by the smoke. They are literally trapped in their homes with toxic fumes. They call me because they don’t know what to do.

The World Health Organization and the U.S. Surgeon General have determined that the most effective way to protect people from secondhand smoke is through secondhand smoke protections policies. Despite this, only 7.4% of the world lives in jurisdictions with comprehensive smoke-free laws. In California, the state law protects people in a few places including most indoor workplaces. In the last ten years, an increasing number of local communities are adding even more protections. Read More »

Did you ever think smell could be harmful?

Recently, I was flipping through the newest issue of Women’s Health Magazine and came across an article about third-hand smoke. At first, I was taken aback because I had never heard of it before. If you know any smokers, you have smelled that stale, lingering smoke before. That is third-hand smoke!

Did you ever think just that smell could be harmful? I never gave that a thought until today. I read a little further and learned that you can breathe in third-hand smoke from almost anything exposed to smoke, such as clothing and furniture. The toxins from cigarette smoke can also build up on these items to create a bigger hazard. Research has shown that third-hand smoke is a health hazard for infants and children, and can lead to respiratory issues and ear infections. Read More »

Voluntary Policy WRIT LARGE

Photo from the Los Angeles Times

For those of you who have been through one of the Center’s policy or strategy chart trainings, you may have noticed that we have a love/hate relationship with voluntary policies, especially with smoke free housing campaigns. We recognize that when owners of businesses, or public agencies take first steps to control smoking or food and beverage offerings, it’s a good thing. But, we also know that it is a dead end unless it is part of a strategy leading to campaigns to pass public policy through city councils, county boards, school boards or other public agencies.

Public policy establishes new rules of the game, new social norms. Public policy changes individual behavior better than any other intervention we know of. So now comes a voluntary collaboration between several of the largest schools districts in the nation which matches, and may even exceed, the potential impact of a federal law mandating a uniform upgrading of what food is served to our children at school. Read More »

Who do you think is at the top of the class?

The other day, a friend who recently turned 21 asked me if I knew of any bars that allowed smoking indoors. At first, I had to laugh, then told her that I have read multiple municipal codes of countless cities and counties in California for the State of Tobacco Control 2013: California Local Grades Report and I did not know of any cities that allow smoking inside restaurants and bars. I also told her I’ve been to many bars and have only seen people get kicked out for smoking inside. To my surprise, she was shocked at my response. She said she has seen many television shows that depict smoking in bars and just thought that could have been the norm and maybe she could find one that allowed smoking indoors in Oakland. To shock her even further, I told her Oakland actually has a very good Tobacco Control Grade of a B. This is an example of a commonly held belief that cities with greater socio-economic hardships and higher diversity have more lenient tobacco control policies, however, this seems to be a misconception.

The misconception stems from the fact that the tobacco industry targets these types of communities. But what appears to happen in response in some communities is that the city tries harder to create stronger policies to hamper the tobacco industry’s efforts. Given this information, it is not surprising to find that the top 17 cities and counties to receive an Overall Tobacco Control grade of an A vary in income and racial diversity. Albany, Calabasas, Compton, Richmond, and Santa Monica are all found together in the top 17 regardless of their many differences. The similarities, however, are that their city councilmembers are doing great jobs protecting their residents from the harmful effects of tobacco. The State of Tobacco Control Report also points out that there is no correlation between population and strong tobacco control policies; the cities in the top 17 range from populations as low as 18,488 (Albany) to 192,654 (Glendale). All of this information can be found in the new section in the State of Tobacco Control 2013: California Local Grades report, called “Top of the Class.” This section details the race, median income, and population of these top cities. Read More »

The Latest Installment in Smokefree Housing

Over what seems to have been forever, our friends at Smokefree Air For Everyone (S.A.F.E.) have been leading the efforts in the City of Santa Monica to create a comprehensive smokefree multi-unit housing policy. Last month the City of Santa Monica, after several failed attempts, adopted a housing policy which includes units of apartments and condominiums. Why is the city of Santa Monica so important? Well, it’s the first rent controlled city in the state to adopt such a policy.   To learn more about this exciting and long ranging effort, we asked S.A.F.E. a few questions regarding their efforts. The first half of the interview is posted below. Part 2 will be coming next week.

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