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Santa Clara County, Cities Making the Grade by Prioritizing Tobacco Prevention Efforts Despite Declining Resources


SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – This morning, The Tobacco Free Coalition of Santa Clara County and Community Advocate Teens of Today, in partnership with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, released the final results of the 2010 – 2011 Community’s Health on Tobacco Report Card.

The Report Card issues grades to all cities and the County of Santa Clara on tobacco control policies.
Now in its fifth release, the Report Card funded through California Proposition 99 is a tool to both monitor and to encourage cities in Santa Clara County to strengthen their tobacco control policies through enforcement and compliance efforts.

“Safeguarding our children from the negative consequences of tobacco is critical,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Ken Yeager, who led an effort to pass a series of comprehensive tobacco control
ordinances.“Tobacco retail licensing has proven effective in nearly 100 communities across California. I encourage all of our cities to get on board.”

County of Santa Clara Supervisor Ken Yeager, along with Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Martin Fenstersheib, and The Santa Clara County Tobacco Free Coalition presented the results of these efforts at a morning press conference. Some of the findings of the 2010 – 2011 Community’s Health on Tobacco Report Card indicate that:

  • Despite facing another year of budget reductions and declining resources, most Santa Clara County cities have made significant strides in prioritizing tobacco prevention efforts.
  • For the second year in a row, the cities of Mountain View, Saratoga, and Milpitas lead the county in receiving a grade “A” for monitoring and enforcing laws and policies related to the sales and advertising of tobacco products in their communities. This year for the first time, the County of Santa Clara joins these three cities for adopting a strong tobacco retail licensing (TRL) ordinance for the unincorporated area of the county.
  • In January 2011, the city of San Jose also adopted a similar policy earning them a grade increase from “F” to “B.”

“Although we continue to experience tough economic times in our county, I praise city leaders and our community efforts for moving ahead and identifying ways to leverage existing funds and resources for the health and well-being of the public,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Liz Kniss, whose district includes Saratoga, Mountain View, and Palo Alto.

In November 2010, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors adopted a strong tobacco retail licensing ordinance that requires retailers in the unincorporated area of the county to obtain an annual license to sell tobacco as well as limit tobacco sales near schools. Currently, many cities in the county are making progress to strengthen their tobacco control policies, which include adopting a similar policy as the county.

“Our primary goal as health advocates is to prevent kids from starting to smoke by keeping tobacco products out of their hands,” says Martin Fenstersheib, County Health Officer. “There is also great support among Santa Clara County voters to prevent access of tobacco products from youth. In a 2011 public opinion poll, 88 percent of voters supported a tobacco retail licensing ordinance, and 74 percent supported no tobacco sales within 1000 feet of schools.”

This year, the Tobacco Report Card grading criteria was revamped to focus more on jurisdictions efforts on enforcement and compliance of current and new tobacco laws. The report card also focuses on the following areas: adoption and enforcement of a tobacco retail licensing (TRL) or a conditional use permit (CUP), tobacco advertising sales and display, and preventing youth access to tobacco. Jurisdictions that had either a TRL or CUP were given additional points on their grade which earned them higher marks than cities that don’t have a similar policy in place. Extra credit was also given to cities and the county for extra enforcement, community education outreach (such as school education), follow-up on complaints and attending tobacco-related trainings, an essential component for promoting lasting policy solutions.

Youth decoy operations were conducted along with city police departments in 12 out of the 13 cities, plus the County of Santa Clara, reaching 364 tobacco retailers. Los Altos Hills and Monte Sereno were not included as they currently have no tobacco retailers within their jurisdictions. Currently, the illegal sales rate to minors in Santa Clara County is 17.3 % as reported by the California STAKE Act.

To view a copy of all cities and the county grades, a list of policies by jurisdiction as well as learn more facts about Tobacco Retail Licensing go to

About the Tobacco Prevention and Education Program
Since 1989, Santa Clara County Tobacco Prevention & Education Program (TPEP) mission is to improve the health of all residents in Santa Clara County by reducing illness and premature death attributed to the use of tobacco products. Funded through the California Proposition 99, TPEP educates local people, businesses, organizations and schools about local tobacco control policies and available quit resources.

For more information about the Tobacco Prevention and Education Program, call 408-793-2700 or visit

Media Contact: Amy Cornell, Health Information Officer (408) 792-5155,
Posted: July 27, 2011