Opinion: End Tobacco Sales Near Natomas Schools


The State of California spends nearly $9 BILLION a year on tobacco-related medical costs (1) and 90% of smokers who generate these costs, began smoking in their teens (1). In fact, for the past 30 years RJ Reynolds has identified youth as the key to sustaining the tobacco industry.

In an internal memo titled “The Importance of Younger Adults,” RJ Reynolds outlined the need to retain young smokers: “Younger adults are the only source of replacement smokers.” (3) 

The strategy to continue to create addiction to cigarettes includes making and marketing sweet flavored cigarettes, marketing in publications popular with teens and prioritizing sales near schools. (4) 

In Sacramento, this strategy is unobstructed because we have no local ordinance restricting tobacco sales near schools.

For our children, our community, our health care system and our state budget, this is terrible.

On June 19, the Sacramento City Council will consider a proposal to restrict sales of tobacco near schools. If the council does the right thing, stores will not be permitted to sell tobacco within 1,000 feet of schools unless they get a special permit obtained through a public process.

Currently, one in four tobacco sellers in Sacramento operate within 1,000 feet of a school, increasing marketing exposure to children and teens.

A staggering seven of 12 Natomas Unified School District campuses are located within 1,000 feet of tobacco retailers, while Westlake and NP3 charter schools are 1,000 feet from Walgreens, a heavy seller of sweet cigarettes and “swishers.”

In the Northgate-Gardenland area, all four Twin Rivers Unified School District campuses are within 1,000 feet of tobacco sellers. (5) 

For Big Tobacco, this is great. For our children, our community, our health care system and our state budget, this is terrible.

Encourage our city council members to stand up for our children and stand against the dirty marketing strategies of Big Tobacco.

Call Natomas Councilmember Angelique Ashby at (916) 808-7001 and Councilmember Steve Cohn at (916) 808-7003 and urge them to support the proposed 1,000-foot tobacco-free buffer around our schools at the June 19 Sacramento City Council meeting. Or e-mail them at [email protected] and [email protected].

Ron Dwyer-Voss is a 16-year Natomas resident, parent and former Natomas Unified School District school board member (2000-2008).

1. CDC; TobaccoFreeCA
2. CDC
3. http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/eyn18c00/pdf; Washington Post
4. CounterTobacco; National Institute of Health; Washington Post
5. City of Sacramento Community Development Department

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