Morgan Hill is one of six cities that will receive grants and in-kind support from public health officials to prevent and reduce tobacco use and to minimize exposure to secondhand smoke in local communities.
The Santa Clara County Public Health Department announced Jan. 16 that it will award a total of $310,000 to local cities for tobacco prevention purposes. Recipients of the funds and in-kind support are the cities of Morgan Hill, Cupertino, Milpitas, San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale.
In Santa Clara County, one in eight deaths annually is attributed to smoking-related illness or diseases such as cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases, according to public health officials. More than one in four adults living in multi-unit housing in the county report smelling tobacco smoke drifting into their home from nearby apartments or from outside. Exposure is even higher for Latino adults and low-income residents, at one in three adults.
Morgan Hill will receive about $25,000 specifically to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing, reads a Jan. 16 press release from the public health department. These funds are expected to reach about 13,678 local residents.
Furthermore, the cities of Morgan Hill, Cupertino and Sunnyvale will receive funds to implement strategies to prevent youth access and exposure to flavored tobacco products, and to reduce the availability of tobacco products, according to county staff. Morgan Hill will receive about $25,000 for these efforts as well, with an anticipated reach of about 12,400 youth younger than 21.
“We saw the benefits of this partnership firsthand in South County with the CDC Community Transformation Grant where both Morgan Hill and Gilroy successfully implemented tobacco prevention policies that reduced youth access to tobacco products,” said County Supervisor Mike Wasserman. “These grants will help expand these healthy policies.”
Collectively, the $310,000 in tobacco prevention funds aims to:
• Decrease secondhand smoke exposure in living spaces with a shared wall, such as condominiums, townhomes and apartments;
• Restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes;
• Decrease the availability of tobacco products within cities, including prohibiting new businesses from selling tobacco near youth-populated areas such as schools, parks and community centers.
All cities that submitted proposals for the county public health program received awards at their requested levels, county staff said.
“Smoking leads to death and disease and harms nearly every organ in the body. And there’s no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, either,” said Dr. Sara Cody, County Health Officer and Director of the Public Health Department. “These funds support cities in doing the essential work of protecting residents from the harms of tobacco products, both cigarettes and e-cigarettes.”
The funding also comes in the form of in-kind support from a professional consultant for research and reports, stakeholder outreach, placement of signage, and materials to educate the public, reads the county’s press release.
Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death and disease in California, killing nearly 40,000 Californians every year, public health officials said. Tobacco use carries a hefty price tag, both in the annual cost of $689 million in Santa Clara County, and impacts on families due to preventable diseases. More than 1 in 10 youth in the county currently use tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices.
“We are seeing an increase of vaping among youth, and this is alarming because these products contain nicotine which we know is addictive,” said County of Santa Clara Tobacco-Free Communities Program Manager Nicole Coxe. “We know that flavors in vaping products and other tobacco products are attractive to teens and make them seem less risky. This funding helps cities address these growing concerns.”
Over the past eight years, the county’s public health department has provided more than $1.2 million in funding to cities to support implementation of tobacco prevention strategies known to have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco-related disparities and inequities, county staff said. Partnerships with cities have resulted in over 65 tobacco prevention policies in 13 cities in Santa Clara County.
All cities in the county were invited to apply for tobacco prevention funding. The funding is available through Proposition 56, the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Act of 2016, which increased the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products by two dollars. Santa Clara County voters strongly approved the proposition in November 2016, with over 73 percent voting yes to increase the tax.