California Department of Public Health director and state health officer Dr. Ron Chapman has unveiled new ethnic-market advertisements that will continue to educate Californians on the harmful effects of tobacco use.TobaccoFreeCA.com. In California, Black and Hispanic men smoke at higher rates (18.9 percent and 15.5 percent, respectively) than white men (14.3 percent). Among women, Blacks continue to have the highest prevalence (15.2 percent), followed by whites (11.2 percent).
Chapman also released the state’s first “State Health Officer’s Report on Tobacco Use and Promotion,” featuring new data on illegal sales to minors, the disproportionate number of tobacco retailers and advertising in minority and low-income neighborhoods, the effect of tobacco advertising in stores, and troubling tobacco-use trends.
Highlights of the report include:
- Illegal tobacco sales to minors rose to 8.7 percent from 5.6 percent in 2011, which was the state’s lowest rate since the survey began in 1995;
- Smoking prevalence was higher at schools in neighborhoods with five or more stores that sell tobacco than at schools in neighborhoods without any stores that sell tobacco;
- In 2011, young adults 18-24 had the highest smoking prevalence among any age group in California;
- The popularity, promotion and availability of smokeless tobacco have greatly increased – examples include snus (a smokeless, spitless, moist-snuff product) and dissolvable and flavored “orbs” and “sticks” (shaped like Tic-Tacs and dissolvable breath strips, respectively), which are currently being test-marketed in other states;
- In less than a decade, sales of smokeless products have nearly tripled, from $77 million in 2001 to $211 million in 2011; and
- Nearly one-third (32.3 percent) of California stores that sell tobacco had at least one cigarette advertisement less than three feet above the floor, where it is easily seen by children.
In addition to the ads, a new Spanish website, CAsinTabaco, was launched to complement the campaign and to provide the Spanish-speaking community the tools they need to quit.
The California Tobacco Control Program was established by the Tobacco Tax and Health Protection Act of 1988. The act, approved by California voters, instituted a 25-cent tax on each pack of cigarettes and earmarked five cents of that tax to fund California’s tobacco control efforts. These efforts include supporting local health departments and community organizations, an aggressive media campaign, and tobacco-related evaluation and surveillance.
California’s comprehensive approach has changed social norms around tobacco-use and secondhand smoke, resulting in dramatic decreases in smoking in the state. It is estimated that California’s tobacco control efforts have saved more than a million lives and have resulted in $86 billion worth of savings in health care costs. Learn more at TobaccoFreeCA.com.