US Mayor Article

Best Practice: Newark in Forefront of California Effort to Stem Tobacco Abuse by Minors
The city of Newark, California, has forged a unique coalition of community groups, businesses and schools to educate the local community and enforce the laws related to tobacco. The cooperative effort of the city, the Alameda County Tobacco Control and the Alameda County Tobacco Coalition, since 1997, focuses on three areas.

The first is education and enforcement of local laws relating to illegal use of tobacco by minors on the local high school campus.

The second focus was geared at reducing the sale of tobacco to minors and, finally, the third related to smoking in the workplace, with specific emphasis related to bars and bingo parlors.

The cooperative effort used a wide range of outreach efforts, aimed at instilling a community-wide awareness about the hazards of tobacco use.

Sparking the effort in 1997 was an initial sample survey of 10 Newark merchants which resulted in the conclusion that more than half the sale of tobacco was going to minors, a violation of law. The Newark Police Department, working with Alameda County Tobacco Control, developed a county-wide protocol for the increased enforcement of laws. As a result, a three-person team consisting of one youth, one staff member of a local youth program called "Friday Night Live," and an officer of the Newark Police Department conducted the educational component of the program, contacting local merchants in an educational program. As a final step in this phase, a "Youth Access Tobacco Enforcement Survey" used a method tried in San Jose by the Police Department. High school students helped with the survey. Result was a 25 percent drop in tobacco sales to minors. A later survey, taken in January 2000, resulted in data showing only 16 percent of sales of tobacco to minors.

Other cities in Alameda County joined the protocol including Pleasanton, Livermore, Union City and Dublin Police Departments and the Alameda County Sheriff Department.

The next target: Minors in Possession. To educate youth from smoking or possession, the city of Newark and Newark Unified School District designed a program called "Smokeless Saturdays" for students caught with cigarettes or smoking on campus. Students were required to attend a four-hour informational class on tobacco, rather than being given a citation.

Other schools joined in the effort. One — Bridgeport High — in 1998 set aside a coffee lounge for students to gather without smoking and discuss issues with guest speakers. Another phase of Newark's campaign is centered on smoking in the work place. Many cities had previously passed city ordinances related to "No Smoking" in public buildings. Now, a new enhanced effort was geared towards reducing smoking at businesses. For those not in compliance, the Newark Police Department took enforcement action.

In January, 1999, a training video was developed for other law enforcement agencies in Alameda County.

One other tactic ensued. The city of Newark updated the city ordinance to prohibit smoking within a reasonable distance from entrances and exits to businesses, a move designed to meet the needs of persons with health issues. Newark Mayor Dave Smith had these comments about the tobacco abuse initiative:

"Newark is a wonderful family oriented community. We are always working towards a better quality of life for the residents. We have been successful, in part, by being proactive in educating the community regarding tobacco. We enforce related laws, with a strong focus on sales to minors. This has been achieved through a partnership with the Alameda County Tobacco Coalition and the Newark United School District. After conducting surveys of merchants who sell tobacco products, there was a notable 84 percent decrease in sales to minors in our city. Our collaboration later resulted into a written protocol that law enforcement agencies throughout Alameda County are currently using. We truly are a "California Healthy Community."

"The city of Newark is committed to be proactive in the community and collaborate with Alameda County Tobacco Control using education and enforcement to improve quality of life. With the passage of AB13, which prohibits smoking in the workplace, we began enforcement in the area of bars and bingo parlors. After issuing a few citations, follow up contacts showed 100 percent cooperation and compliance from the bingo parlors and most bars. We also updated the prior city ordinance related to smoking in the workplace to include prohibiting smoking within a reasonable distance of any business entrance."

The city of Newark is a resource for other law enforcement agencies statewide, and due to this proactive and community-based approach, we were recognized by Bay Area Region Tobacco Education Resource (BARTER) for making a difference in the community and for educating the public about the hazards of tobacco use.    

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