County wants to reduce tobacco use, advertising

The local Tobacco Use Reduction Program is setting new goals in regards to the Lee Law signage regulations. During the Tuesday, June 20 Lassen County Board of Supervisors meeting, Public Health Program Coordinator Michael Peery shared some insights into county tobacco use and some goals for the department.

The Lee Law, which refers to a California Business and Professions Code, Peery shared, was enacted in 1994 and designates that only 33 percent of window space can be covered with advertising and signs, the interior of the businesses cannot be blocked by advertisements. The problem the Lee Law works to combat is the exposure of alcohol and tobacco products to youth – which is especially a problem, Peery noted, with flavored tobacco products like e-cigarettes.

“It is a danger to youth,” he said, claiming that the more a child is exposed to tobacco products, the more desensitized they become. The new goal of the local reduction program is to go even further than the Lee Law, hoping to reduce window advertising from 33 percent to 15 percent.

However, as Peery showed through pictures, some local businesses aren’t even following the 33 percent law, which is intended to be enforced by law enforcement, said Health and Social Services Director Melody Brawley.

Peery also showed numbers relating to tobacco use in the county. According to data collected from Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, about 20.5 percent of adults in the county smoke cigarettes, compared to 12.7 percent throughout the state.

About 22.7 percent of youth use any form of tobacco, where the state numbers are at 13.8 percent. The number of youth for every one store that sells tobacco is 145, and is 267 in the state.

The numbers projected spurred questions from the supervisors who wondered if the numbers were similar to other small, rural counties. Peery said they were similar numbers to those received in Sierra, Modoc and Plumas counties.

The matter will be back before the board at a later date to further discuss the changes to the allowable window advertising.