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January - March 2021
Dear Rural Partners,

Happy New Year! We hope you are having a happy and healthy first quarter of 2021. Here at RISE, we have already started working hard on our plans for this year. We have so many exciting webinars, trainings, and rural materials in the works! Keep an eye out for our future newsletters and Partners posts to keep up with everything we are doing in 2021. And do not forget to regularly check out our website,, to see what new info we are sharing. 
We are excited for amazing collaborations this year. Thank you for all your hard work to keep our rural communities healthy!

The RISE Team
Raising Our Voices for Health Justice: California Communities Against Commercial Tobacco
Registration for the Information and Education Virtual Day of Action 2021 is now open. Rural voices need to be represented at I&E Day. Register now and have your voice heard! 
Register Now! 3/5 Smoking Cessation Day
Register now for the 3rd annual Smoking Cessation Day virtual symposium on Friday 3/5!  The Keynote speaker is Dr. Michael Fiore, who will talk about integrating tobacco treatment into nationwide cancer care.  Panels will discuss California's flavored tobacco products law, smoking and COVID, and a breakout on tobacco treatment trainings.  While the target audience is health professionals, this half-day symposium is great for public health partners and coalition members.  Free educational credit is available through the Center for Tobacco Cessation.  The symposium is organized by three TRDRP implementation cessation research projects.

For more information, please contact Elisa Tong, (916) 734-7005
Increased Tobacco Use During COVID-19 and
How the Smoke Free High Country Project
Highlights this in Rural CA
Thank you to Amanda Berryhill and the Smoke Free High Country Project
Increased spending money from not having to pay for things like gas and entertainment, as well as increased stress and isolation, seems to be leading to a halt in the decades-long decline in U.S. cigarette sales. In 2019 U.S. cigarette unit sales reached 5.5% and a low of 14% use rate. But in 2020, this changed. Instead of seeing a continued decline, smoking rates and cigarette sales went flat. This was a huge shift. In 2020, people started smoking or started again during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is shown through anecdotal evidence, preliminary sales numbers, and trends picked up on by researchers. Some theories for why include more time at home, spending less money on other things, and seeking out coping mechanisms which also include comfort foods and alcohol. The Wall Street Journal spoke to one individual who had increased his smoking during the pandemic. He stated that working from home had allowed him to take a smoke break whenever he wanted, and he said he can work outside while smoking. Additionally, the New York Times spoke with a smoker who stated that she had started smoking again during the pandemic and not only that but was now smoking inside.

These use rates are especially high in our rural California communities.  In the fall of 2020, the Smoke-Free High Country Project administered a survey in Siskiyou, Plumas, and Lassen counties. The survey found a surprisingly high tobacco use rate for these three counties. The California Tobacco Control Program has estimated the tobacco use rate in the High-Country Region at 20%. This is already close to double the average rate for the state of California at 11%. Rural communities historically have a higher use rate due to tobacco industry targeting. The 2020 survey found that tobacco use rates in the High-Country region are more than double the state average, and more than the CTCP estimates. The county rates are as follows: Siskiyou: 22.5%; Plumas: 23%; and Lassen 28%. The number one most used product was cigarettes, and the second most used product was chew.

These national and local examples reveal the clear reality that now is not the time to push pause on tobacco control policies. We must act now to safeguard the health of our communities and fight back against the inequities too often seen in rural health outcomes.

References from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Smoke Free High Country Project
Colusa County & City of Williams General Plans
Prioritize Health

By Holly Laird, Project Coordinator at ETR
In June 2020, the Colusa County Board of Supervisors added language to promote smoke-free multi-unit housing (MUH) to the Housing Element in the county’s General Plan. Inspired by this update, city planners in Williams followed suit and added the language to their city’s General Plan in October 2020. Although a general plan is not a substitute for legislated policy, it does serve as a blueprint, a guide that reveals constituents’ vision for their community to their elected officials.  READ THE FULL STORY HERE
The RISE Website Has Been Updated
We have added new resources specific to rural communities and California on our website! Learn more about the retail environment, environmental issues, tobacco industry targeting, and more. RURAL RESOURCES HERE
COVID-19 Vaccine and Tobacco Use

Tobacco products weaken respiratory health. Those who smoke or vape can experience much more serious effects from respiratory illnesses such as the flu and COVID-19 is no different. Smoking weakens the immune system and can put smokers, especially older adults, and other vulnerable populations, at greater risk for contracting COVID-19. The COVID vaccine can help protect tobacco users in our rural communities, keeping them healthy from COVID, and giving them a better possibility of a healthy life and a chance to quit. 

The impact of COVID-19 on our lives, our activities, and our freedom has affected us all. The responsibility is ours, as a community, to help stop this virus. Now we have a new, safe, and effective tool to help us do that—COVID-19 vaccines. It takes everyone. We all need to step up to beat COVID-19. We ask you to join us in protecting yourself, your family and friends, and our community by getting vaccinated. By getting vaccinated we can do our part in supporting the health of our rural communities

Here are some things you should know about the COVID-19 vaccine:
All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States are very effective at preventing the disease. The most common side effects are pain in the arm where you got the shot, feeling tired, headache, body aches, chills, and fever.

Ending a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available—wearing masks, staying at least 6 feet apart from people who don’t live with you, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, washing your hands frequently, and getting vaccinated. We want everyone in our community to be safe and get back to hugging our families and friends and shaking hands with our neighbors. We all play a part in this effort, and you are key.

Please sign up to get your COVID-19 vaccination HERE
If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit CDC’s FAQs web page.

Spread awareness on social media with California Health Collaborative's hashtags:
Contact the RISE team for help during the CX process
The RISE team is here to help you during the CX process! We are happy to provide technical assistance to advance health equity and connect community members to Local Lead Agencies (LLAs). Please fill out our technical assistance form on our website if you want help. 
Click Here to Reach Out
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