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Letter from the President

As we celebrate Breathe California’s 109th birthday, I offer my sincere appreciation for your continuous support and dedication to healthier communities. You inspire us to do more and do better, and in this increasingly uncertain political climate, we need you now more than ever.

It has been a momentous year as our team had the privilege of working on a number of groundbreaking lung health initiatives. We are excited to share some of these accomplishments in this 2016-17 Year in Review, including that we:

  • established a new asthma education program for low-income families and their clinicians;
  • successfully completed the pilot year of our new environmental education program, Oxygen for You (O24u), in one of the most polluted Bay Area communities;
  • with the help of Breathe CA’s Project E-NUFF, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to protect youth by banning the sale of flavored tobacco products. As expected, Big Tobacco is attempting to overturn the new law so the battle will continue into 2018.
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2016-2017 Year in Review

Powerful illustrations of why tobacco prevention efforts are so critical popped up in unexpected places this year; one of those literally hit home. Born and raised in the Bay Area, my father smoked for over 30 years, beginning as a teenager. He quit in 1989 when California introduced its first tobacco tax (taxing cigarettes really does help people quit!). Still, earlier this year and 28 years after his last cigarette, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Like my dad, youth often don’t understand that the health impacts from tobacco may not be felt for decades. I am proud to lead an organization working to change that every day!

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the communities and families devastated by wildfires this year and thank all those who helped to save lives and lungs, protecting one another from the flames and resulting toxic air pollution. You are true lung health champions who inspire Breathe California to continue the ongoing battle for clean air and healthy lungs.

I would also like to thank all of the California voters who helped pass Proposition 56 this year, adding a $2 tobacco tax to each pack of cigarettes. We are ecstatic that smoking rates are starting to decrease, yet nearly 500,000 people are still dying of tobacco-related diseases each year. Focusing on the state’s most vulnerable populations, Prop 56 will help lower smoking rates even further, with funds supporting medical care, lung health research, and tobacco prevention efforts.

Finally, on behalf of our Board of Directors and staff, I would like to thank you for supporting Breathe California and our efforts to make lasting change at the local, state and national levels. Your generosity and leadership makes all of the difference.

With gratitude,

Tanya Stevenson, EdD, MPH
President & CEO

Download our 2016-2017 Year in Review