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New City Ordinance on Tobacco Sales

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San Antonio has become the first municipality in Texas to pass a Tobacco 21 (T21) ordinance, which will prohibit the sale or providing of tobacco products to a person under 21 years of age within the city of San Antonio.

This new tobacco ordinance, which goes into effect October 1, 2018, will be instrumental in reducing tobacco use in high schools and reducing the risk of young people becoming regular smokers. Since the ordinance passed there has been an emphasis on educating the community on what this new policy means, when it takes effect, what specific products it applies to, and why it’s important. Metro Health’s T21 Community Education Workgroup has developed a collection of tools and materials to help educate community members on this important information.

What products does this apply to?

Tobacco products that are smoked, heated, chewed, absorbed, dissolved, inhaled, or ingested by any other means, including, but not limited to a cigarette, a cigar, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, snus, an electronic smoking device (e-cig), including liquids used in electronic smoking devices, or hookahs. Does not include drugs, devices, or combination products authorized for sale as tobacco cessation aids by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, such as nicotine patches.

Why is this important?

  • Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the U.S., according to the CDC, killing more than 480,000 people per year.
  • 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before age 21, and 88 percent began before age 18.
  • Raising the minimum legal sale age of tobacco to 21 will help prevent young people, especially those age 15 -17, from starting to smoke.
  • Individuals under the age of 21 are especially vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and nicotine addiction.
  • This will also reduce tobacco-related deaths, disease, and health care costs.
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Councilman Shaw Resigns from City Council

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SAN ANTONIO (Dec. 13, 2018) —
Effective January 7, 2019, Councilman William “Cruz” Shaw is resigning from his position on City Council as he has accepted an offer to become associate judge of the 436th Judicial District Court.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the people of District 2 and collaborate with the staff at the City of San Antonio,” said Councilman Shaw. “I am grateful for this opportunity to work with the youth in San Antonio who have found their way into the criminal justice system. I want to make clear to the people in District 2 that there will be no interruption in services and council staff will continue to address all constituent concerns.”

The City will release the details for filling the District 2 vacancy in the coming days.

 

View resignation letter

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The Discussion w The Writer Fred Blacks in the Media: Have We Made Good Progress?

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Get Emergency Utility Bill Help Now Through Your Smartphone

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San Antonio’s Department of Human Services (DHS) announced the availability of a new, Emergency Utility Bill Assistance online application, which is at www.sanantonio.gov/DHSutility.

The online application simplifies the previous paper-based process by eliminating the need for residents to print and photocopy supporting documentation (photo ID, proof of income, CPS Energy or SAWS bill), and mail documents or visit the Willie Velasquez Center to obtain assistance. Now, residents can complete the application online and upload required documents using their smartphone or tablet’s built-in camera.

“We have found that most of our clients today have a smartphone, even if they don’t have a computer,” Human Services Director Melody Woosley said. “We wanted to make it easy for residents to use that phone to apply for the assistance they need.”

The new online application is the culmination of the inaugural CivTechSA residency program, collaboration between the City’s Office of Innovation and Geekdom. CivTechSA coordinated a 16-week residency in which city departments pitched their challenges to be solved by local technology firms. Kinetech Cloud, a Geekdom-based custom software-as-a-service provider, was one of two businesses selected for the CivTechSA residency.

The emergency utility assistance program helps the city’s most vulnerable residents during times of need to avoid power and water service shut-offs whenever possible. The average annual income of applicants for assistance is approximately $14,000. The program processes over 10,000 applications annually, administering approximately $2.4 million in CPS Energy bill assistance and $400,000 in San Antonio Water Systems (SAWS) credits. Human Services works closely with CPS Energy and SAWS to apply the assistance credits to the bills of eligible residents in need.

“The new online application system allows our staff to provide real-time updates to clients. When a family faces utility disconnection, time is of the essence. This application allows for faster communication with clients, to help complete their application and keep utilities connected,” Woosley said.

Additional benefits of the application include a self-service portal where applicants can check the status of their application, view the average processing time for the past thirty days, and receive automated notifications each time the status of their application changes.

“Virtually every industry is being impacted by technology and local government is no different,” said Michael Guido, CEO of Kinetech. “The majority of population growth over the next fifty years will occur in urban areas. Cities must invest in infrastructure and digital services to address this growth in a sustainable way.”

The DHS solution aligns with San Antonio’s Smart City Initiative – to have San Antonio be connected, inclusive, and resilient. Interested citizens can find out more at www.sanantonio.gov/humanservices/FinanceEmergency.

 

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