City Earns High Scores for Tobacco Control

City Earns High Scores for Tobacco Control

Tobacco control in Gilroy earned high marks in a countywide
Tobacco Report Card, which noted the city’s efforts to curb teen
smoking.
Gilroy – Tobacco control in Gilroy earned high marks in a countywide Tobacco Report Card, which noted the city’s efforts to curb teen smoking.

Gilroy earned a B- overall, beat out only by Mountain View (B+) and Los Altos (B) The city scored points for enforcing limits on window advertising of tobacco and holding undercover stings to catch retailers who sell cigarettes to youth.

“We were very pleased to see a high grade,” said Gilroy Police Cpl. Rosa Quiñones, who helps coordinate the citywide stings, which take anywhere from four to six hours.

Other tobacco prevention activities include Life Skills classes for Gilroy fifth-graders, where the department’s Neighborhood Resource Unit teaches kids to avoid tobacco, and regular bar checks, where police enforce state smoking laws.

“Most businesses are complying with the law by asking our decoys for ID,” said Quiñones, “but at least two businesses were cited last year for selling them cigarettes.”

Gilroy still has room for improvement, according to the county’s Tobacco Control Coalition: The city could boost its score by banning portable signs advertising tobacco, and prohibiting tobacco ads below 4 feet high or within 3 feet of candy – an ordinance not passed by any city graded in the 2007 Report Card.

Counselors who work with Gilroy youth say tobacco is still readily available to teens. Orlando Salcedo, who runs the MACSA Hombres program for young men at the Mexican American Community Service Agency, says many teens sneak cigarettes from parents who smoke, or bum them off adult smokers on the street.

Others buy them from liquor stores that don’t bother to card, he said.

“It’s really easy for a boy to ask another guy for a cigarette, and some of these guys look pretty old,” said Salcedo.

In his after-school program, Salcedo shows the teens photos of tar-stained lungs.

“They freak out when they see pictures of the effects. They say, ‘For real?’ ” he said.

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