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Quarterly News & Updates

Spring Edition 2023

Say Hello to Our New Staff

Empowering Local Communities Introduction - The SOL Project received a grant to work on Multi-Unit Housing (MUH) and Smoke-Free Outdoor Places (SFOP) policy along with engaging the community with emphasis on faith-based outreach. 


Community Engagement Coordinator

888-774-7685, ext. 300

Ms. Robertson is a passionate leader with a vision for African Americans to thrive through improved social determinants of health; which includes security, great mental health and well-being. Ms. Robertson developed her passion for tobacco prevention and public policy initiatives in 2006 when she partnered with The African American Tobacco Education Partnership (AATEP) in developing grassroots community outreach and education media campaigns. After learning about the predatory marketing practices of the Tobacco Industry, she began serving as a volunteer for community outreach initiatives, focus groups, and advisory committee participation. She then became a subcontractor to train and prepare youth advocates in activities such as giving testimony at city council meetings.


Seventeen years later, in her new position as the Community Engagement Coordinator at Saving Our Legacy, African Americans for Smoke Free Safe Places – The SOL Project, she is responsible for organizing collaborative partnerships with community-based organizations, faith-based leadership and residents to further education, advocacy, and policy efforts. 


Project Director

888-774-7685, ext. 400

Ms. Scruggs is a compassionate healthcare professional who believes that everyone deserves access to education, resources, and opportunities to create their best life. She is a resident of Sacramento, and has extensive experience working with nonprofits, health centers, and county and state governments. Her areas of expertise include program planning, grant management, marketing, and implementing effective public health campaigns to reduce health disparities.

Valarie's work in tobacco prevention began early in her career, completing retail surveys. Since then, she has engaged with campaigns and coalitions to support tobacco cessation and prevent tobacco addiction and premature loss of life. From 2013-2016, she served as the Saving Our Legacy, African Americans for Smoke Free Safe Places (The SOL Project) Community Advocate Consultant. In this role, she established a collaborative focused on addressing social determinants of health to improve health outcomes for African Americans related to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The collaborative work resulted in the development and implementation of The SOL Project “Strategies to Improve Health Equity Where African Americans Live, Work, Learn, Worship & Play Community Action Plan.” 

Valarie is known for her communication and partnership building skills. She has conducted presentations, community engagement initiatives, marketing, and technical assistance in Sacramento and San Joaquin counties. Her passion for helping people and improving their health appears in all the work she has done and continues to do with the SOL Project.



Be A Leader! Yes, even you can start a movement to optimize the health of your community. Lead the way on No Menthol Sunday.

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This year's theme is "We need food, not tobacco." The growing food crisis is driven by conflicts and wars, climatic shocks, and the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Structural causes like the choice of crop also have an impact, and a look into tobacco growing reveals how it contributes to increased food insecurity.

Learn more

Statewide Youth Advocacy Conference – Registration Open

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The 2023 Statewide Youth Advocacy Conference is designed to create a space for youth and adult partners to learn how to advocate for policy and system change. This unique learning opportunity trains youth on current commercial smoke/tobacco-free policy initiatives and utilizes Live Action Roleplay activities for youth to practice new learned advocacy skills. 

This year’s event will be held in Santa Cruz County at the Happy Valley Conference Center on Monday, July 17 to Thursday, July 20, 2023.

Youth who are entering the 9th-12th grade in the August/September 2023 school year and who are working with California Tobacco Control Program (CTCP)-funded projects are invited to attend. At this time, coalitions can register up to two adults and five youth to attend; however, organizations can request to add more youth participants to a waitlist, if space permits. CYAN will cover the costs for food and lodging for all participants, and transportation scholarships are available. Registration for this year’s conference will close on June 9, 2023.

Statewide Youth Conference Informational Webinar

Join the CYAN team for an informational webinar on May 18 at 10:00am – 11:00am to hear an overview of the conference; what participants can expect from attending the event; share guidance on registering youth coalitions/groups; and answer questions about registering, preparing, and attending this year’s statewide conference. Register for the webinar here.

For more information about the conference as well as a link to registration materials, please visit the CYAN website.

For more information, please contact Jocelyn Rodriguez, (916) 339-3424 Ext 25


HIGHLIGHT: 2023 I&E Days at the Capitol

THANK YOU Senator Angelique Ashby and your support staff for meeting with us today and for being a CHAMPION for Tobacco Policy and supporting the Flavored Tobacco Ban - BIG WIN towards the fight ending big bad tobacco sales in California!

#IandEDays #2023


#TobaccoEndgame #VoicesAgainstTobacco


Learn more about I&E Days

California’s flavored tobacco ban causes mixed feelings among Sacramento locals

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Despite the outcry of tobacco retailers, Black lawmakers argue that the tobacco industry targets African Americans. “The black community has long been subjected to the predatory marketing of mentholated tobacco products,” says Dr. Valerie Yerger, a University of California, San Francisco health policy researcher and founding member of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council.

Read full article

CA Attorney General Warns Tobacco Companies That Their New Cigarettes Are Banned In The State

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On April 25, the California Attorney General's Office sent five letters to tobacco companies ITG Brands LLC and RJ Reynolds that their products "Kool Non-Menthol," "Kool Blue Non-Menthol," "Camel Crisp," "Camel Crush," "Newport Non-Menthol Green," "Newport EXP Non-Menthol Mix,"and "Newport EXP Non-Menthol Max" have all been determined to be in violation of California's statewide flavored tobacco ban that has been in effect since December 2022.

In the letters, the AG's office argues that the packaging and promotional materials clearly suggest that they contain a flavor. In addition to these letters the AG’s Office also sent to these companies a letter requesting a response from the companies, a certification sheet and instructions for completing and returning the certification sheet. The companies have until June 23 to provide evidence that these cigarettes comply with the statewide sales ban. 

For more information, please contact Liz Hendrix, (916) 324-4150

JUUL Multistate Settlement

On April 11, 2023, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a $462 million multistate litigation settlement agreement with JUUL Labs, Inc (JLI) that was negotiated by the California Department of Justice and six other states. 

The settlement resolves lawsuits from New York, Massachusetts, California, Illinois, Colorado, New Mexico and Washington, DC, alleging that JUUL intentionally marketed its product to minors and created an epidemic of youth vaping. As part of the settlement, JLI is bound by a series of marketing and sales restrictions for their products. They must also publicly release some of their documents and create a way for the public to access them, in a similar way to the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library.

The settlement places a wide variety of constraints on JLI, including: not marketing to youth in any way, limiting their social media presence online, curbing the amount of JUUL products that can be sold, conducting compliance checks on retailers of their products, and paying out a total of $462,000,000 to the settling litigating states in installments by June 1, 2030. California will receive $175.8 million over the course of the installments, and the money is to be used for the following:

  • Programs that provide cessation assistance to California residents who were exposed to e-cigarettes while under the age of 21
  • Education or prevention programs that are designed to prevent or reduce use of e-cigarettes by California residents who are under the age of 21
  • Research into the health effects of the use of e-cigarettes on people under 21
  • Policy efforts to mitigate the impact of and limit access disposable e-cigarette and other nicotine products for people under 21

For the full text of the settlement, click here. For more information, please contact Ryan Pyle.

Why Smoke-Free Housing?

If home is where the heart is and we spend most of our time at home, it is important to protect our hearts (and lungs) from the deadly effects of secondhand smoke exposure.

Yolo County considering ban on smoking in apartments and other multiunit housing.

Read full article


The California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program (CDPH/CTCP) anticipates the release of Request for Application (RFA) #23-10040 Statewide Coordinating Center for the American Indian Initiative to Reduce Tobacco-Related Disparities

The purpose of this RFA is to fund one (1) Statewide Priority Population Coordinating Center (PPCC), for American Indian and Alaska Native communities in California. The purpose of the Statewide PPCC is to coordinate and foster interactive and integrative collaboration and communication among CDPH/CTCP- funded projects, as well as other state, regional, and local partners to address tobacco-related disparities. The Statewide PPCC efforts are expected to engage new and existing partners to accelerate the adoption, implementation, and impact of policy and system change initiatives facilitated by CDPH/CTCP- funded projects.

Details about the release of this solicitation can be found on the Funding Opportunity Alert posted on the Tobacco Control Funding Opportunities and Resources (TCFOR) website. To receive email notifications about this funding opportunity, please sign up on TCFOR.

SMUD Shine Grant

SMUD is inviting nonprofit organizations to apply for a Shine award for local projects that will impact the community through inclusive collaborations and equitable strategies. We're seeking proposals that support zero carbon workforce development, environmental stewardship, inclusive economic development and STEM education in our service area. We’re eliminating all carbon emissions from our power supply by 2030, so all our customers will live in a Clean PowerCity. Due Date: August 1st.

Click here to apply.

Tobacco & Cannabis Related Legislation

The State of California Legislative season is in full swing! Several tobacco bills are making their way through the legislative process, listed below. If you would like legislative updates sent directly to your inbox, create an account at California Legislative Information and track the bills that you are interested in following. You can also find a calendar of legislative deadlines to keep track of critical milestones.

Assembly Bill (AB) 599: Suspensions and expulsions: tobacco (Ward): This bill would amend existing state law to remove tobacco and tobacco product use or possession from the list of acts for which a student may be suspended or recommended for expulsion.

Status: Referred to Assembly Committee on Appropriations, placed in suspense file April 26.

AB 935: Tobacco sales: flavored tobacco ban (Connolly): Initially proposed as a bill to implement a phased tobacco ban for Californians born after a certain date, this bill was amended in the Assembly Health Committee on April 11 and now instead adds enforcement language to California’s statewide flavored tobacco ban (SB 793). Specifically, the bill proposes to make the provisions of the flavored tobacco ban punishable by civil penalties in the same manner as the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement (STAKE) Act, with primary enforcement of the Act as the responsibility of the State of California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the state attorney general’s office. See Existing Law for specifics of STAKE Act. (California Business and Professions Code § 22950 – 22964).

Status: Referred to Assembly Committee on Appropriations April 26.

Senate Bill (SB) 626: Smoking in the workplace: Transient Lodging Establishments (Rubio): This bill would eliminate the existing exemption in state law that permits hotels and motels to allow smoking in up to 20% of guestroom accommodations, thereby making it illegal to smoke in 100% of all hotel and motel guestrooms and transient lodging establishment.

Status: Set for third reading in the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 2.

The following cannabis-related bills may be of interest as well:

AB 374: Cannabis: local control: cannabis consumption (Haney)This bill would allow cannabis businesses that permit smoking, vaporizing or ingesting of cannabis on the premises to be able to sell non-cannabis-infused food, nonalcoholic beverages, and tickets for live performances.

Status: Referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 2. 

AB 471: Cannabis catering (Karla): This bill would authorize the Department of Cannabis Control to issue a state caterer license authorizing the licensee to serve cannabis or cannabis products at a private event approved by a local jurisdiction for the purpose of allowing event attendees 21 years of age or older to consume the cannabis or cannabis products that is not hosted, sponsored, or advertised by the caterer. In determining whether to issue a state caterer license, the bill would require the department to consider the proximity of the private event to a youth recreation center, school, or location where persons under 21 years of age congregate. Under the bill, consumption of alcohol or tobacco would be authorized on the premises of that event to the extent authorized by the local jurisdiction and if no alcoholic beverage license is required.

Status: Referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 2. 

AB 1207 Cannabis: Labeling and Advertising (Irwin)This bill would prohibit the sale, manufacture, advertisements or marketing of cannabis or cannabis products that are attractive to children. The bill would also prohibit cannabis or cannabis products intended for use by inhalation or combustion from containing any natural or synthetic flavors or descriptors of flavors.

Status: Referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on April 20.

SB 285: retail preparation, sale, and consumption of noncannabis food and beverage products (Allen): This bill would authorize a local jurisdiction to allow for the preparation or sale of noncannabis food or beverage products by a licensed retailer or microbusiness in the area where the consumption of cannabis is allowed. It would also authorize a local jurisdiction to allow for the sale of prepackaged, noncannabis-infused, nonalcoholic food and beverages by a licensed retailer.

Status: Ordered to a third reading in the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee on April 18.

SB 540: Cannabis and cannabis products: health warnings (Laird)This bill would authorize the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) to reevaluate current cannabis product warning labels to include evolving science. It would also require DCC and CDPH to create an informational sheet or folded brochure that includes steps for safer use of cannabis and post it at the point-of-sale at cannabis microbusinesses and online.

Status: Placed on Senate Appropriations suspense file April 24.

Please remember to follow all the rules and prohibitions in place surrounding lobbying and political activity. For more information, please see the Local Lead Agency and Competitive Grantee Administrative and Policy Manual.

For more information, please contact Marilyn Headley.


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