Good job on passing the tobacco ordinance
On Sept. 1, the Sebastopol City Council voted to enact a Tobacco Retail License Ordinance. This move follows many years of work towards satisfying overwhelming public-will in the community since at least 2016 when tobacco prevention objectives were incorporated into the city's General Plan. In support of this effort, the Tobacco Free Sonoma County Community Coalition, of which I am co-chair, was present last to stand by the Gravenstein Health Action Committee's effort to make Sebastopol safer for youth.
One of our coalition members, a 15 year old, gave a heartfelt public comment on the predatory tactics of the Tobacco Industry. Inadvertently, during her comment, an industry advocate, knowingly, or unknowingly was not on mute but exclaimed "I can't listen to this anymore! Shut the 'F' up!" This outburst was heard by our Coalition youth member but it did not stop her from finishing her public comment. Zoom muting glitch, or no glitch, I think this outburst is important to highlight.
For 50 plus years, the tobacco industry and supporters have deafened themselves to science and public health experts and social justice advocates. They don't want to hear or acknowledge the deaths, in the millions, they have profited off by pedaling highly addictive, toxic products. The industry has recruited a whole new vanguard of spokespeople, young, 20-somethings, likely victims of the industry’s addiction campaign of the past half decade.
Now those teens, exposed to high dosages of nicotine through e-cigarette products laced with tantalizing sweet and candy flavors are now young adults. The industry has a new vanguard defending nicotine vaping. Last night, we heard an example of a predatory industry that is trying to tell concerned teens and young adults who refuse to let the industry continue its efforts to hook teens to "Shut the 'F' up."
Well guess what, they are not going to be silenced. I would like to commend the Sebastopol City Council for taking this important step to protect the youth of west county.
We are living in interesting times. Whether we consider this a curse or an opportunity is our choice. I know that many of us are frightened or discouraged by the unrelenting assault on all that we love about our country by a political party that treats the majority of Americans as the enemy.
But we are not helpless. In fact, we are only beginning to know the power in our hands to create the world that we deeply long for.
Times of great uncertainty are also times of great possibilities. This is a time to dream greatly, to love boldly, to work smart and work hard.
Flipping the White House and the Senate is where we have to start. If you live in a state where the Senate race is competitive, you know what you have to do. If, like I do, you live in a state that is safely blue you can volunteer to phone bank, text or write postcards for other states.
A few postcards or phone calls may seem insignificant, but they add up, just as a single snowflake falling can be what triggers the avalanche to change the entire landscape.