On Tuesday, November 5th 2019, youth voices from the Colton Community Coalitions for CHANGE were heard by Mayor Frank Navarro and the Colton City Council members as they discussed the implementation of a Tobacco-Retail Licensing (TRL). Colton became the second city in the Inland-Empire Region to adopt a comprehensive TRL policy. On October 23rd, Adelanto became the first city in San Bernardino County to Adopt a TRL Policy.
During last Tuesday’s Colton City Council Meeting, City Council Member Dr. Luis S. Gonzalez acknowledged Carlos Antonio Vasquez, Madison Warner, Kevin Hernandez Rosales, Melanie Hernandez Rosales, and Axel Vasquez for their persistence in helping push forward a Tobacco Retail License in the city of Colton.
“These kids came in from the very beginning way back when with this idea and to see these kids coming together and acting on this idea and bringing it to full fruition is just a joy and I think we are just really proud,” Dr. G exclaimed.
Youth voices were loud and clear as Carlos Antonio Vasquez, Colton Community Coalitions for CHANGE member and senior at Colton High School stated, “Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a vaping epidemic in California, and no one better than us understands what that looks like on an everyday basis. I am proud to say that my city is responding to the call to action made by Governor Newsom. I have been here to talk about this before and I am in here today speaking in support of TRL and hope you can vote ‘yes’ today, maybe what seemed impossible has become possible.”
Why a Tobacco Retail License?
According to The Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing, while the legal purchasing age for tobacco in California increased from 18 to 21 years of age in 2016, communities are finding that their youth still have access to tobacco products well before they are 21 years old. In order to address this issue of underage tobacco use among youth, many local cities and counties in California have begun to adopt local TRL Policies.
Change Lab Solutions explained that a number of federal and California state laws already regulate tobacco sales and establish penalties for illegal sales to minors. But these laws each have separate enforcement mechanisms and penalty structures, making it difficult to enforce them at the local level. A local tobacco retailer licensing law, on the other hand, empowers local law enforcement to impose meaningful penalties for illegal sales to minors and ensure compliance with all existing laws—ensuring that local communities can prioritize enforcement even when state and federal authorities are unable to do so.
MHS Central Valley Prevention Program has been working with Colton Community Coalitions for CHANGE to reduce underage drinking, smoking, and other drug use since 2010. Mirza Andrade-Martinez from Mental Health Systems-Central Valley Prevention Program shared, “In the summer of 2017, community members attended a monthly coalition meeting, during that meeting they expressed their deep concern for vaping and tobacco, and tobacco sales to minors in Colton. The coalition has been working for over two years on possible solutions, coalition members gathered (Tuesday) in support of the adoption of a tobacco retail license, which would provide the City of Colton with local control to address tobacco isssues. Consistent compliance checks and fees attached to violations are the most effective strategy for reducing illegal sales to underage youth.”
“Research has proven that tobacco retail licensing ordinances are an effective measure in reducing youth access to tobacco products,” concluded Addison Saenz, California Health Collaborative – San Bernardino County Tobacco Control Program Manager. “We commend the Community Coalitions for Change and the City of Colton for their efforts in San Bernardino County in addressing this important public health issue.”
For more information on TRL and how you can help your community call MHS Central Valley Prevention Program at (909) 423-0312 or visit Facebook.com/CommunityCoalitionsforChange