Morgan Hill, Gilroy dead last in county tobacco study

In an effort to curb smoking by local youth, Santa Clara County June 9 became the first county in California to raise the purchasing age for tobacco and electronic smoking products from 18 to 21.

Gilroy and Morgan Hill finished dead last in a countywide study
released Wednesday detailing cities’ efforts to curtail tobacco
Gilroy and Morgan Hill finished dead last in a countywide study released Wednesday detailing cities’ efforts to curtail tobacco use.

The yearlong Community’s Health on Tobacco Report Card – conducted by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department – graded each city in four categories: amount of tobacco advertising, youth access to tobacco, tobacco sales and display and an extra-credit category for cities with additional enforcement or education.

Gilroy, 50, and Morgan Hill, 40, were the only cities to receive failing grades on a 100-point scale.

Mountain View and Saratoga – both scored 95 – were the tops in the county.

The study is one of several efforts the county’s public health department employs as part of a roughly $400,000 annual contract with the California Tobacco Control Program, which is renegotiated every three years, said Amy Cornell, information officer for the county health department.

Data were compiled from observing and recording storefront advertising and displays, law enforcement review and local municipal codes. Cities received higher scores for storefronts with tobacco-related advertising covering less than one quarter to one third of total window coverage, according to the study.

A 10 percent random sample of tobacco retailers from San Jose and 20 percent random sample from each other city and unincorporated jurisdiction were visited.

“We select a random sample at the beginning of a project year and then use those retailers for our baseline for the survey for the three-year grant project period,” Cornell said.

Law enforcement agencies that attempted undercover, underage tobacco purchases also netted higher marks, as did community outreach and education efforts such as the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, commonly referred to as D.A.R.E.

City, health and police officials who advocated for stronger tobacco control policies also bumped up overall scores, according to the study.

Los Altos Hills and Monte Sereno were not included in the study because they have no tobacco retailers within their jurisdictions, Cornell said.

GRADES (out of possible 100):

Mountain View – 95

Saratoga – 95

Milpitas – 91

San Jose – 81

Los Altos – 80

Sunnyvale – 80

Santa Clara – 80

Campbell – 80

Cupertino – 80

Palo Alto – 80

Los Gatos – 66

Gilroy – 50

Morgan Hill – 40

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