Mayor Ed Lee signs Tobacco 21 legislation, YLI Youth Leaders provide public testimony supporting the ordinance

Campaign Victories

“We [CAM] believe the youth are vital to addressing health equity issues because we are the ones being targeted. We are also more prone to purchase products such as Tobacco and for many the problem starts as early as high school. One of the main things we learned is that the Tobacco industry targets youth to buy their products.” – Carmy, CAM youth leader

On March 11, 2016, San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee signed the Tobacco 21 ordinance into law and YLI’s youth program Community Action Model (CAM) provided public testimony in support of the policy. This legislation makes San Francisco the second major city – after New York – to raise the purchasing age of tobacco from 18 to 21. Tobacco 21 holds tobacco merchants accountable for selling tobacco and electronic cigarettes responsibly, it does not criminalize youth for use or possession of tobacco products.

CAM supports Tobacco 21 because we believe in the power of environmental prevention in health equity. Through youth-led action research, CAM frames health issues, researches the issues, and then develops recommendations based on data to support a policy solution that improves health in our communities.

CAM focuses on limiting unhealthy messages in the communities most impacted by unhealthy advertising: low income communities and communities of color. Youth leader Eli says, “Alcohol, tobacco and junk food advertisements bombard liquor stores and corner stores in low-income communities specifically in Mission, Bayview and Tenderloin….I realized that my family, friends, and neighbors are at risk of making unhealthy choices due to the advertisement that surrounds us every single day.”

CAM is a proud member of the Tobacco Free Coalition, whose mission is, ” to implement an appropriate tobacco control plan that addresses unique diversity of SF and includes environmental change through policy development, media advocacy as well as cessation services.” Our partners in the successful passing of Tobacco 21 were Tobacco Free Coalition, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American medical association, UCSF Tobacco Control Research & education, BACR, Breathe California, Vietnamese Youth Development Center, and Tenderloin Healthy Cornerstore Coalition.

On March 1, 2016, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Tobacco 21 ordinance introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener. San Francisco has a long history of passing legislation geared towards curbing smoking. In the last 10 years, it has banned smoking in restaurants, bars, playgrounds, parks, taxis, on public transit vehicles, wharves, docks, athletic fields, bus stops, golf courses and charity bingo games. In addition to being instrumental in passing all these smoke-free ordinances, Tobacco Free Coalition has successfully pushed for smoke-free public housing, banning tobacco advertising in the City, and for tobacco-free pharmacies.

Tobacco 21 will take effect on July 1, 2016.