10-Year Report Hails the California Anti-Tobacco Program for Saving Lives and Millions in Taxpayers' Dollars
SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 17, 2000-- Citing overwhelming data from California's 10-year history of successful tobacco control efforts funded by Proposition 99 (the 1988 Tobacco Tax Initiative), the state's Tobacco Education Research Oversi
``California's Tobacco Control Program is our most effective weapon against the tobacco industry's negative influence on California youth and young adults,'' said Jennie R. Cook, chair, TEROC. ``California's program is now an internationally recognized model of statewide tobacco control.''
``The tobacco industry is spending $1.5 million a day, in California alone, to aggressively prey on our youth with messages that portray tobacco use as a normal part of being a young adult living the good life,'' said TEROC member Gus T. Dalis, Ed.D., director, Center for Health Education, Los Angeles County Office of Education. ``That's $1,000 a minute.''
During the 1990s, Proposition 99's comprehensive tobacco education and prevention program led the world in reducing tobacco use, according to TEROC member David M. Burns, M.D., University of California, San Diego. ``The efforts of California's anti-tobacco program have led to a paradigm shift in Californians' smoking behavior and acceptance of tobacco use.''
Adult smoking prevalence tumbled from 26.7 percent in 1988 to 18.4 percent in 1998, which is the second lowest in the nation and far below the national average of 25 percent. Consumption of tobacco products decreased by more than 50 percent, from 126.6 packs per capita in 1988 to 61.3 packs in 1999. From 1998 to 1999 alone, annual per capita consumption dropped by 11.5 percent.
California's adolescent smoking rates also have been substantially lower than the rest of the U.S. In 1996, the smoking rate for California 10th graders was 18 percent, compared to about 31 percent in all other states. And, data indicates that the rate of adolescent smoking in California has dropped by 12 percent since 1995.
``The success of the program as outlined in this report is cause for great celebration and, yet, it also is a reawakening to the arduous task still facing California,'' added Cook. ``Despite all our great achievements and progress, tobacco use throughout the state continues to take a terrible toll -- physically, emotionally and financially -- on all Californians.''
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tobacco use still remains the number one preventable cause of death, killing more people each year than alcohol, cocaine, crack, heroin, homicide, suicide, car accidents, fires and AIDS combined.
``There is an urgent need to counter the tobacco industry's aggressive marketing, particularly among young adults ages 18 to 24, where we have recently seen a disturbing increase in smoking prevalence,'' said Dr. Dalis. ``This increase will significantly influence adolescent smoking behavior as youth `model up' -- that is, they want to look like and act like their older role models.''
TEROC also recommends that the administration assure the rapid development and approval of new media campaigns.
``Currently, the snail's pace speed of the approval process on new advertising is troubling,'' said Dr. Burns. ``In fact, the last major ethnic-specific advertising campaign to be approved was launched in July 1997. Rapid development and approval are critical to catching the cutting edge of cultural change and especially to responding quickly to the ever-changing tobacco industry strategies.''
To further the success of the California Tobacco Control Program's comprehensive approach that uses multiple channels of intervention -- the media, community-based organizations, schools, universities, public health departments, and numerous other state departments, agencies, organizations and commissions -- the TEROC Master Plan also includes the following recommendations:
-- Instruct the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) to incorporate compliance with the smoke-free bar and restaurant law into its routine administration of bar license requirements, approvals, suspensions and renewals.
-- Continue and expand the collaboration with the University of California's Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program to encourage and fund research that makes specific contributions to tobacco control.
-- Continue to strengthen and increase accountability of school-based tobacco use prevention education programs, consistent with principles of effectiveness; and, increases collaboration and communication among and between school-based and public health-based tobacco control programs.
-- Encourage local commissions of the California Children and Families State Commission to include objectives for tobacco control in their strategic plans.
TEROC presented its fifth Master Plan pursuant to its legislative mandate (California Health and Safety Code Section 10450-104480). As directed by the Legislature, the Master Plan highlights the accomplishments and lessons learned by California's Tobacco Control Program during its 10-year history, and sets forth policy and budgetary recommendations for the future.