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STOPP says “GO” to Healthier Neighborhood Stores
Caravan News 5750

STOPP says “GO” to Healthier Neighborhood Stores

Local tobacco prevention program collaborates on community health improvement projects

San Joaquin County Public Health Services’ Smoking and Tobacco Outreach Prevention Program (STOPP) is striving to improve the health of the community by involving youth and adult allies in the state’s Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community (HSHC) campaign. Stores in the community play a critical role in the economic well-being of the community as well as the people who visit them. As part of the statewide HSHC Campaign sponsored by the California Department of Public Health and the California Tobacco Control Program (CTCP), STOPP is partnering with community members and other community programs to assist neighborhood retailers in reducing harmful advertising of alcohol and tobacco while increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

A store’s appearance and choices, both outside and inside, can impact the community’s economy, physical well-being, and safety of neighborhoods. A 2013 San Joaquin County survey of 132 neighborhood stores that sell alcohol, tobacco and convenience foods, showed that 82.5% have unhealthy exterior advertising compared to only 9.2% that have healthy exterior advertising (CTCP, 2013). The survey results also highlighted that only 23.5% of adults in San Joaquin County ate 3+ servings of fruits and vegetables and that 68.6% of adults are overweight or obese. The type of products available and the manner in which they are promoted influence the purchases and the health of the community, especially the youth.

In an effort to encourage healthier behavior, STOPP is collaborating with San Joaquin County Public Health Services’ Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention (NEOP) program to educate the community about how exposure to unhealthy advertising and choices contributes to health disparities in the community. A recent partnership with Oakland’s Mandela Marketplace through NEOP will help link local farmers and retailers to increase fresh food accessibility for San Joaquin County residents. In addition, community support and involvement will be vital to the success of these ongoing collaborative efforts.

Studies have shown that exposure to unhealthy advertising and products have a negative effect on youth behavior and community safety. STOPP is partnering with local law enforcement to bring about positive changes for youth and the community through the HSHC Campaign. STOPP has also reached out to a variety of adult and youth groups such as Friday Night Live (FNL), Re-Invent South Stockton and Stocktonians Taking Action to Neutralize Drugs (S.T.A.N.D) to increase local involvement in support of the HSHC Campaign.

In an effort to increase youth involvement in this project, STOPP invited local youth and adult groups to attend a recent all-day Youth Engagement Forum that was sponsored by the California Department of Public Health Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention Branch, the Public Health Institute and the I-SEEED organization. In an inspiring high-energy atmosphere, forum facilitators provided the youth and their adult allies with tools for working together to become positive change-makers in their neighborhoods. STOPP staff attended the event to present future program and campaign youth involvement opportunities, such as conducting community surveys. For more information on how to get involved with the HSHC Campaign, please call 209-468-2411.

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