Contact l Sitemap

home industries issues reasearch weblog press

Home  » Industries » Tobacco

About the San Francisco Tobacco Free Coalition

San Francisco Tobacco Free Coalition
June 30th, 1997

The Tobacco Free Coalition sponsored a ground breaking forum to set an agenda for global tobacco control policies in San Francisco on Monday May 19, 1997. At the Forum the Coalition presented its Global Tobacco Control Policy Framework which outlines actions that can be done locally to address the global impact of tobacco.

Dr. Judith Mackay, who established the Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control in Hong Kong in 1989, Aminata Seck from Mouvement Anti-Tabac, Senegal, Dr. Tom Novotny the CDC Liaison to the World Band, Stella Aguinaga from UCSan Francisco's Health Policy Institute, Ross Hammond who shared his experiences from Tanzania, and Gordon Mar from the San Francisco Chinese Progressive Association were featured speakers. San Francisco Supervisor Sue Bierman and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosis' staff member Ron Brown gave supporting statements.

The Tobacco Free Coalition has successfully advocated for several tobacco control ordinances in San Francisco, including the banning of vending machines, tobacco and alcohol advertising on city property, smoke-free worksites and restaurants, and most recently the prohibition of tobacco self-service merchandising displays. The new FDA regulations will provide even stronger policy measures to reduce the tobacco advertising and promotion that targets our children.

However, the Coalition has become acutely aware over the past few years that while many regulations to control tobacco have been enacted on the local, state and national level, the tobacco industry has shifted its focus to the international community to ensure its growth and profits. In a city as international as San Francisco, we have observed a direct impact on our residents, particularly immigrants from Asia. The marketing strategies used to promote American cigarettes on televised rock concerts from Hong Kong, for example, have an even more powerful impact on Chinese immigrants than the Joe Camel ads here in the U.S. The smoking rates of Asian immigrants in San Francisco reflect the tobacco industry's opening up of foreign markets in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan through US Trade Representative threats of trade sanctions. On both a local and global level, the tobacco industry also has a serious negative impact on the environment. For example, according to the California Coastal Commission, cigarette butts which take an average of 25 years to decompose, account for almost half of the items collected in the annual statewide beach cleanup. The cigarette butts are washed down rivers, lakes and into the ocean from city streets, through storm drains. Seabirds, animals and fish eat them by mistake but because they have no way to digest the filters, they die.

On a global level, tobacco curing barns burn as much as one acre of forest for every acre of tobacco cured. Cigarette manufacturing machines use four miles of paper per hour to roll and package cigarettes. Tobacco cultivation exposes farmworkers, many of whom are children in developing countries, to dangerous pesticides which also pollute the soil and waterways. Tobacco's impact on the international community and the environment are both intertwined with politics, the economy, and international trade policies.

San Francisco is positioned as a leader in tobacco control, international trade and environmental issues, as well as a major metropolitan city with political influence. San Francisco has taken the initiative, for example, to file a lawsuit against the tobacco industry to recoup the city and county's costs for providing health care for tobacco related diseases to the medically indigent. This legal action was joined by several California cities and counties. Another example of San Francisco's political influence is the passage of a ground breaking local ordinance requiring businesses doing business with the city/county to provide the same benefits to workers with registered domestic partners as they do married employees. This law has pushed the corporate giant Bank of America to provide domestic partners benefits to its 80,000 workers in the United States.

San Francisco has also shown leadership in the area of environmental policy as the first city to pass local legislation to control the use of harmful pesticides on city and county property. California has also played a role in trade relations with Asia. Just this January, Governor Wilson, State Trade Secretary Julie Meier Wright, and a host of trade officials went on a 21-day trade mission to the Philippines, Singapore, Taipei, Taiwan, Shanghai and Beijing to unveil big business deals and meet with heads of State. The Vietnamese government is also considering opening a consulate in San Francisco because of its important role in trade relations with Asia.

The Tobacco Free Coalition believes that if we do not begin to address tobaccco on a global level, not only will we not be truly effective, but we will also leave the most vulnerable populations more open to tobacco industry aggression. Just as San Francisco has been a leader in the fight agains AIDS, we believe that SF can be a leader against the Tobacco Industry, the vector cause of smoking related diseases.

In the next few months the Coalition will be working to implement the Global Tobacco Control Policy Framework.

The San Francisco Tobacco Free Coalition invites you to join them in reducing the global impact of tobacco. For more information write, call or fax:

SF Tobacco Free Coalition
c/o the SF Tobacco Free Project
1540 Market Street, #250
San Francisco, CA 94102 USA
Tel: 415-554-9151
Fax: 415-241-0484
Web: San Francisco Tobacco Free Coalition


About the San Francisco Tobacco Free Project

The Tobacco Free Project (TFP) of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, is part of the Statewide campaign, funded by Proposition 99, the 1988 Tobacco Tax Intiative, to reduce tobacco use in California addressing the three state-mandated priorities to: (1) reduce exposure to environmental smoke; (2) reduce youth access to tobacco; and, (3) counter pro-tobacco influences of advertising and promotion. In addition, limited cessation services are provided to hard to reach populations through the Health Department's Community Health Network and a contract with the American Lung Association of San Francisco and San Mateo counties. The State also mandates that each local health department tobacco control program provide technical and staff support to a local tobacco control coalition. The San Francisco Tobacco Free Coalition has begun to look at the global impact of tobacco on the international community, the environment, economics and politics. The Coalition recently sponsored a Forum on Global Tobacco Control Policy to present its Global Tobacco Control Policy Framework which outlines recommendations for taking local actions that would address some of the global issues.

Some of the Tobacco Free Project funded activities include:

  • A campaign to prepare the community for the requirement that bars be smokefree as of January 1, 1998.

  • A campaign to reduce children's exposure to environmental tobacco smoke at home.

  • A campaign to reduce youth access to tobacco by conducting tobacco purchase surveys as well as compliance with the ban on tobacco self-service displays.

  • Utilizing existing laws to reduce tobacco advertising targeting children.

  • Providing eight community based agencies with training and technical assistance through a community capacity building process to identify and implement community actions that counter pro-tobacco influences. The community capacity building project component is described in more detail below.

  • Providing support and technical assistance to the Tobacco Free Coalition in implementing the Global Tobacco Control Policy Framework to address the global impact of tobacco.

  • Provision of cessation services through the Department of Public Health's Community Health Network in English and Spanish. Additional services for youth, the Russian speaking community and the gay/lesbian/bisexual transgender community are provided through a contract with the American Lung Association.

  • Provision educational interventions to increase compliance with state law prohibiting smoking in the workplace.

  • Utilization of media to support the above activities.

Community Capacity Building Component

Tobacco control efforts have moved away from projects that focus solely on changing individual lifestyle and behavior (helping smokers/quit or educating teens not to start) to projects that mobilize community members and agencies to change environmental factors such as tobacco advertising, promotion and access for minors that promote unhealthy behavior.

The Tobacco Free Project is currently funding eight community based agencies to implement community capacity building projects that address the environmental factors associated with the problem of youth smoking.

The intent of community capacity building is to work in collaboration with communities and provide a framework for community members to acquire the skills and resources to investigate the health of the place where they live and then plan, implement and evaluate actions that change the environment to promote health.

The focus is on changing the environment in which one lives in recognition of the fact that this has the greatest impact on health. This includes those social, political and economic factors impacting on physical and mental health. As such, projects that solely focus individual lifestyle change (such as helping people quit smoking or education so youth do not start) are not funded as part of this project.

Tobacco Free Project staff provide interactive trainings and technical assistance to community based organizations to facilitate a sharing of existing skills and community strengths so that the actions are community driven. Part of this includes raising awareness in the community of the tobacco companies' marketing efforts and their recruitment and targeting of specific communities, particularly youth.

It is the Tobacco Free Project's intention that community groups will find that these skills are transferable to community issues other than tobacco control, such as violence prevention, and are encouraged to integrate other community health issues into their work.

The eight community capacity building projects are being conducted by:

  1. 1. Columbia Park Boys and Girls Club, which is serving youth in the Mission.

  2. 2. Chinese Progressive Association, which is serving the Chinese community in Chinatown.

  3. 3. Polaris Research and Development, which is working with the African American community.

  4. 4. Mission Housing Development Corporation, which is working primarily with Latino residents.

  5. 5. San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners, which is working with youth in the Bay View.

  6. 6. South of Market Problem Solving Center, which is serving the South of Market community.

  7. 7. Ping Yuen Residential Improvement Association, which is located in Chinatown.

  8. 8. Booker T. Washington Community Center which is serving the Western Addition community.

For more information contact the:
San Francisco Tobacco Free Project
1540 Market Street, #250
San Francisco, CA 94102
Tel: 415-554-9151, Fax: 415-241-0484