New Laws Give California Children Greater Protection From Tobacco Industry Marketing; Public Supports Tobacco Control
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec. 20 (AScribe Newswire) -- California children will benefit immediately from new statewide tobacco control laws and changes to existing laws that become effective January 1, 2002, according to the American Cancer Society, American H
"California's children deserve protection from the dangers of tobacco use and predatory marketing by the manufacturers of America's number one killer," said Bruce Herold, chair of the board with the American Lung Association of California. "Creating an environment where smoking is not considered the norm and enforcing the state's tough secondhand smoke and youth access laws are key to protecting the health of our children."
Senate Bill (SB) 757 prohibits self-service cigarette displays, restricts the distribution of free tobacco product samples, and bans the sale of cigarettes in packs that contain fewer than 20 cigarettes. It also strengthens enforcement activities of the STAKE (Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement) Act, expanding compliance checks to sales made over the telephone, via the mail and the Internet, and at businesses with previous violations for selling tobacco to minors, in addition to those that are complaint-based.
"We must stop children's access to tobacco in order to help prevent another generation from becoming addicted to one of the most dangerous and life-threatening products on the market," said Raymond Melrose, DDS, President, American Cancer Society, California Division. "Most smokers begin their deadly habit before they are 18. For retailers, obeying the law is simple: check a person's identification, calculate age and stop selling tobacco to kids."
Assembly Bill (AB) 188 bans smoking of tobacco products within a playground or tot lot, as well as the disposal of cigarette and cigar butts in these areas.
"AB 188 bans smoking in places where our children play," added Herold. "Exposure to cigarette smoke is especially dangerous for children because they have much higher rates of lung diseases, like bronchitis and pneumonia and they are also at greater risk of developing asthma."
SB 322 prohibits the sale, distribution or importation of "bidis" (also known as "beedies"), except by businesses that prohibit minors, such as bars and casinos. Bidis are hand-rolled, often filterless cigarettes, wrapped in temburni leaf or tendu leaf, and imported primarily from India and some Southeast Asian countries. They are available in a variety of candy-like flavors and often are sold in packs of less than 20, which makes them more tempting and affordable to youth. Bidis contain three times more nicotine and five times more tar than regular cigarettes. Additionally, bidis oftentimes do not display the Surgeon General's warning or appropriate tax stamp indicia.
"Limiting the sale of bidis to adult-only businesses will help reduce our children's temptation to try a product that's as addictive and dangerous as regular cigarettes," Melrose said . "Bidis appeal to kids because of their candy-like flavors, their cheap prices and the mistaken belief that bidis are safer than traditional cigarettes."
Californians continue to embrace tobacco control laws. Since its implementation, public support for California's Smokefree Workplace Act has only increased. According to a recent statewide poll, 73 percent of California's bar patrons approve of the law. This is a 24 percent increase in support from 1998 when 59 percent of the bar patrons approved of the law. In addition, 91 percent of bar patrons said they are either going to bars more often or have not changed their bar-going behavior as a result of this law, a six percent increase from 1998.
Tobacco use continues to take a physical, emotional and financial toll on all Californians as the number one preventable cause of death. Every day in California, nearly 300 children begin smoking. Of those, 200 will go on to become addicted smokers and half of those will die prematurely of smoking-related diseases.