City of Fort Bragg keeping tobacco out of youth hands, lungs
The City of Fort Bragg adopted a Tobacco Seller's Ordinance in December of 2012 requiring tobacco sellers to obtain a license from the City and pay a modest fee to cover the cost of enforcement of the ordinance. The goal of the Tobacco Seller's Ordinance is to reduce youth access to tobacco and to educate and inform the public and business owners of the importance of protecting the health of youth by helping them not use tobacco products. California has demonstrated that these ordinances, when enforced, are effective at keeping tobacco out of the hands and lungs of youth.
The City entered into an agreement with the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) to conduct buy surveys in Fort Bragg city limits. Two surveys were conducted in 2013 by 16-17 year-olds who used their own valid California identification in an attempt to purchase tobacco products. In May of 2013, a total of 33 percent of retailers sold in violation to the ordinance. When the buy survey was done again in November 2013 that percentage was reduced to 27 percent.
Information on tobacco retail laws and clerk training materials is provided to all new county tobacco retail licensees, as well as those who violate the ordinance. Owners of stores selling tobacco products to minors were encouraged to work with and educate their employees to prevent sales to underage youths. Markets that did not sell tobacco to youth received letters of recognition from the Mendocino County Public Health Officer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. For every smoker who dies from tobacco use, two young people start smoking, almost all under the age of 18. According to the California Healthy Kids Survey, 17 percent of Mendocino County teens smoke compared to fewer than 14 percent across the state.
The Health and Human Services Agency is working to educate store owners and the public of the effects of tobacco advertising signage on children. Children who visit markets with tobacco advertising on a weekly basis increase the likelihood of becoming daily tobacco smokers. Local efforts to ensure that exposure to tobacco products and advertising to youth are on the decline are part of a statewide effort funded by a tax on tobacco sales through the California Department of Public Health's Tobacco Control Program.
For more information, please contact Judy M. Judd, Mendocino County HHSA Public Health Planning and Prevention Tobacco Control Program Director at 707-467-2695.