Health Policy Programs

En Español

PVPSA has advocated for healthy communities since our inception. We work in conjunction with City and County policy makers to consider, define, and implement local policy, which improves the health and well-being of our community members. Additionally, we work with local businesses to develop and put in place voluntary policies designed to protect employees, consumers and residents. Our work is funded by the California Department of Health’s California Tobacco Control Program.


PVPSA is widely known for our tobacco policy work. We have successfully collaborated with the City of Watsonville to promote and designate Smoke Free City Parks. We have also partnered locally with the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency and the Santa Cruz Tobacco Education Coalition to support the implementation of a Tobacco Retail License requirement for businesses that sell tobacco products in the City of Watsonville. The Tobacco Retail License has made a positive impact in the city by reducing the illegal sales of tobacco products to minors in our local stores. PVPSA also collaborates with regional partners in San Benito, Santa Cruz, and Monterey Counties to support and achieve their goals related to tobacco use and prevention education.


Our community-based tobacco prevention program, Project HEART, addresses the health disparity issues of our community as related to tobacco use. The goals of Project HEART are to advocate for public and voluntary policy changes, environmental changes and social norm changes to reduce tobacco use among population groups with high rates of smoking; people of low socio-economic status, including the homeless; Latinos; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people; veterans; people with substance use disorders or behavioral health issues, people with disabilities and formerly incarcerated individuals.

Current Public Policy Advocacy work in tobacco continues to revolve around reducing exposure to second hand smoke in multi-unit housing facilities by helping owners and managers incorporate and apply smoke-free policies at their sites. This in turn benefits both residents and management, resulting in better living conditions for residents and less costs to management. Another avenue to better health involves reducing exposure to second hand smoke for both clients and employees at facilities which serve low socio-economic status individuals such as facilities providing alcohol or drug treatment, mental health care, programs for clients with developmental disabilities, and senior day programs.

Additional work will look to ensure that at least one jurisdiction in Santa Cruz County will adopt a policy which will prohibit the sale of tobacco and tobacco related products, including electronic devices, such as e-cigarettes, vape pens, or hookah pens, in pharmacies.


As a member of the Santa Cruz Community Prevention Partners, PVPSA provides additional support for safe communities by increasing community awareness of alcohol related health implications. Project CURB, seeks to reduce youth access to alcohol by encouraging civic leaders to reduce the number of stores that sell alcohol and to provide for local monitoring of these alcohol retail outlets with an alcohol retail license for off sale vendors.


PVPSA is piloting a Promotoras de Salud or Community Health Advocate program to provide outreach and information to community members. Our team of Promotoras engage community members to advocate for themselves and their neighbors on issues of public health and safety concern: reducing alcohol sales to minors, exposure to second hand smoke and tobacco, availability of tobacco products, especially those products targeting youth.