Calaveras County tackles tobacco

By Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat August 15, 2013 12:30 pm

Calaveras County will accept $150,000 from the state this year to support tobacco use prevention and education efforts.

The county’s Board of Supervisors approved the allocation Tuesday in a 4-0 vote. Supervisor Chris Wright did not attend the meeting.

The county’s campaign has been led by student volunteers organized under the Office of Education and driven by their ideas and concerns, according to Acting Public Health Director Colleen Tracy.

In previous years, they have focused on curbing tobacco use in parks and restaurants, she said.

Calaveras Unified School District Trustee Greg Gustafson and Supervisor Darren Spellman inquired as to whether chewing tobacco might be a point of special emphasis this year.

Tracy replied that it can be suggested.

“We know that in rural areas, youth have a much higher rate of use of chewing tobacco,” Tracy said.

Supervisor Cliff Edson, formerly a San Andreas Parks and Recreation

commissioner, praised the effect the campaign has had on the town’s Turner Park and student involvement.

“They’re the ones who are doing it,” Edson said. “They pick up the (cigarette) butts.”

A few audience members spoke in opposition of accepting the funds during public comment, decrying a nanny government.

Supervisor Merita Callaway pointed out that the funding comes from Proposition 99, approved by California voters in 1988. The revenues are derived from a 25-cent excise tax on the sale of a pack of cigarettes included in the measure.