Monthly Archives: January 2013

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 »

ABC’s of Jessica

The Center is on a roll with new staff and interns. Meet Jessica, our newest intern. She and Stacy Song have been working with Lindsey on all things policy related. Take a look at her ABC’s to learn a little more about her.

A is for Area Code: 95662

B is for Breakfast. What did you have for breakfast today? Every morning I have eggs and toast.

C is for Calling. What do you consider your calling to be? I have a strong passion for studies of political economics and public speaking.

D is for Dogs. Do you have any? Until a year ago I had a wonderful Australian Shepard named Trixie.

E is for Energy. What do you do when you need more energy? I immediately run to Starbucks for a triple grande vanilla latte.

F is for Fun. What do you like to do for fun? I enjoy kayaking and hiking in my spare time, mostly along the scenic American River.

G is for Greatest Accomplishment. What is yours? During my senior year of high school a California Supreme Court judge awarded me the title of Outstanding Speaker after our debate team won a state championship. Read More »

California Legislators go to Washington

We talk a lot about the state legislature, and I’ve written a few times about redistricting, and its effects. One of the things that I find so interesting is how legislators move around, jumping from local officials, to the legislature, sometime serving in statewide office, and sometimes running for congressional seats. The start of the 113th Congress is a good example of that.

On January 3, the 113th Congress was sworn in. With it, 82 freshman members from all over the country. That means that of the 435 members that serve in Congress, almost 19% of them were new. Compared to other years, this seems right in line (there were 93 in the freshman class of the 112th Congress and 65 in the freshman class of the 111th Congress), but what is noteworthy is the California delegation. This year the California delegation experienced the highest turnover it’s had in 20 years according to a Los Angeles Times article.

Of those 82 new faces in DC, 14 of them are from California. According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, this higher than normal turnover in the California delegation is due to “retirements, redistricting, and the new ‘top-two’ election rules.” What is even more impressive is that of those 14 new Congress Members, nine of them previously served in the California legislature as Senators and/or Assembly Members. Read More »