The "2010-2011 Community's Health on Tobacco Report Card" was released by the Tobacco Free Coalition of Santa Clara County and Community Advocate Teens of Today, in partnership with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, to monitor Santa Clara County cities' tobacco-control policies and encourage enforcement efforts.
Grading was based on tobacco advertising and displays and preventing youth access to tobacco. Points were awarded for a high compliance rate with window advertising regulations, enforcement of underage tobacco sales laws, and creation of policies requiring a tobacco retailer license.
The cities of Mountain View, Saratoga, and Milpitas received 'A' grades for the second year in a row.
Liz Wylie, spokeswoman for the Mountain View Police Department, said the city's program is run by volunteers, with Explorer Scouts attempting to buy tobacco products while underage, and adult volunteers visiting each business that sells tobacco to check for compliance. "It's an educational program rather than an enforcement program," she said.
This year the county has also joined the 'A' list, which officials are crediting to the enforcement of new laws passed last year by the Board of Supervisors restricting tobacco sales in unincorporated areas of the county.
Supervisor Ken Yeager, one of the board members who was instrumental in the introduction and enactment of the laws, said combating youth smoking and protecting residents from secondhand smoke exposure only in incorporated areas of the county is not enough.
Research has shown these laws are working," Yeager said at a news conference in San Jose to announce the results of the report. "I'm hoping that we can bring [other cities] along."
Dr. Martin Fenstersheib, the county's health officer, said the county spends about $830 million annually on treatment of tobacco-related health effects.
The new laws require retailers that sell tobacco in unincorporated areas to obtain and maintain an annual permit. New retail outlets would be prohibited from selling tobacco if they operate a pharmacy or are located within 1,000 feet of a school or within 500 feet of another tobacco retailer.
The new laws prohibit smoking at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, outdoor shopping malls, all county parks, in hotels and motels, and at retail stores that exclusively sell tobacco and smoking products, as well as smoking within 30 feet of any outdoor service area, such as a ticket line. Smoking is also now banned in duplexes, condominium and townhouse complexes, and apartment buildings.
The cities of Campbell, Gilroy, Cupertino, Milpitas, Palo Alto and Sunnyvale are also studying the possibility of bringing tobacco retail license ordinances to their respective city councils.
Last year the Santa Clara County Public Health Department was awarded a $6.9 million federal grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for tobacco prevention efforts. The department will use the grant to decrease the prevalence of smoking in the community and conduct efforts to prevent teens from taking up smoking.