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The Cost of Smoking on Sonoma County


The Cost of Smoking on Sonoma County

The adverse health effects of tobacco are immense and real in Sonoma County. Members of our youth are starting to smoke young, thus starting a lifelong habit that could lead to negative health consequences in the future. 

In Sonoma County,

• Tobacco use is a leading cause of death in Sonoma County. 

• There are approximately 570 smoking-attributable deaths each year. These smoking-attributable deaths represent 15% of total annual deaths (2008-12 annual average). 

• The estimated adult smoking prevalence is 14% (2011-12 data). 

• An estimated 11% of eleventh graders smoked a cigarette in the past 30 days (2013-14 data). 

• An estimated 69% of eleventh graders reported that it was “fairly easy” or “very easy” for eleventh graders to get cigarettes if they really wanted them (2013-14 data). 

• An estimated 18% of adults have ever been diagnosed with asthma (2011-12 data). 

• The total estimated cost of smoking was $277.7 million in 2009. This estimate includes direct healthcare costs and indirect costs from lost productivity due to illness and premature deaths.

As shown below, the health impacts of tobacco-related illnesses negatively impact our community.

Proposed Tobacco Retailer Licensing (TRL) Ordinance

Tobacco kills, and most life-long users start young: 

We know that most tobacco users start when they are young. 90% of life-long smokers start before they are 18. On average 570 Sonoma County residents die each year from smoking related diseases.

Kids can easily purchase tobacco products in Sonoma County: 

Our youth have an easy time purchasing tobacco products in Sonoma County. DHS recently conducted a youth purchasing survey in February and found that 18% of retailers sold to underage youth. The Petaluma Police also conducted a recent youth purchasing operation and found that 39% of their retailers sold cigarettes to minors. The state average is 9%.

Tobacco retail licensing is a highly effective policy: 

TRL’s have a long track record of reducing youth access to tobacco. Over 140 jurisdictions in CA alone have established TRL’s. 

The proposed Sonoma County TRL is focused solely on preventing underage youth access to tobacco products.

The annual TRL fee is the cost of selling deadly products: 

Sonoma County residents already pay over $84 million a year in healthcare costs alone related to tobacco use (approx. $170 per resident). 

These costs are absorbed through federal and state taxes and health insurance premiums. 

Requiring retailers to pay an annual fee that pays for tobacco law compliance and enforcement in order to protect the county’s youth from the harmful products that they sell is a reasonable request given what residents pay to support the outcomes of tobacco use.

Setting a minimum price is the best way to reduce youth smoking: 

Raising the price of tobacco is the number one strategy to reduce youth smoking rates. A minimum price of $7 per pack of cigarettes represents a modest price increase; one that creates a barrier for youth while limiting the impact on adults.

The average price for a pack of cigarettes in California is $5.76, which ranks 24th in the nation and far behind leading states like NY, where the avg. cost is $10.29. 

The burden of tobacco use is one we all share so the standards we establish for those who sell this product are high to ensure responsibility on the part of both the merchants and the public. 

A strong TRL is aligned with Sonoma’s commitment to health and youth:

Sonoma County’s proposed TRL would represent one of the strongest passed in California and the Country, and would make a strong statement in protecting the health of our youth.