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Tobacco report card shows mixed grades for greater Los Angeles region

Posted: January 21, 2011 2:53 p.m.
Updated: January 21, 2011 2:53 p.m.
 

The American Lung Association in California released its annual State of Tobacco Control report that issues grades to cities and counties in California on key tobacco control policies, including those for smokefree outdoor environments, smokefree housing, and reducing sales of tobacco products.

This year, for the first time, the American Lung Association in California graded all 480 incorporated cities and towns, and all 58 counties in the state. In addition to local grades, the State of Tobacco Control 2010 issues grades for the federal government, all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Citing mixed results at every level for the state, American Lung Association in California Los Angeles Leadership Board Chair, Peter Anastassiou said, "It's time to raise the grade. Strong local tobacco control policies must be a top priority for our elected officials."

South Pasadena adopted a smokefree housing ordinance in 2010 and raised their overall grade to an A grade. The city joins two other cities in Los Angeles County, Calabasas and Glendale, to be among the nine municipalities in the state to receive an overall A grade.

The two biggest cities in the region, Los Angeles and Long Beach, both received an overall C grade. Several cities made progress in 2010 as Beverly Hills, El Segundo, Monterey Park, Palmdale and San Gabriel all adopted or strengthened a tobacco retailer licensing ordinance to raise their Reducing Sales of Tobacco Products grade from an F grade to an A grade. However, there are still many communities in this region that need to do more to adopt local policies and protect their residents from exposure to secondhand smoke and the health consequences of tobacco use.

In 2010, a total of 38 municipalities adopted new tobacco policies to protect their citizens and raise their grades. While many jurisdictions adopted strong policies and improved their grades, this year's report shows that the majority of cities and counties in California still fail to protect residents from the harmful effects of tobacco use. In total, 359 cities and counties - 67 percent of jurisdictions in the state - received an F for their overall tobacco grade.

To view a full copy of State of Tobacco Control 2010 and to see all city and county grades, go to lungusa.org/california.

Once a national leader in tobacco control policies, California now earns mixed results. While California earned an A for smokefree air policies, the state receives an F for failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and control programs, another F for poor coverage of smoking cessation treatments and services, and a D for its low cigarette tax. Among the 50
states and the District of Columbia, California now ranks 33rd for its $0.87 per pack tax, far below the national average of $1.45.

"California's tobacco tax is too low," said Jane Warner, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California. "Cigarettes are too cheap and we are failing to adequately protect our children from becoming regular cigarette smokers."

That is why the American Lung Association in California is co-sponsoring the California Cancer Research Act, a ballot initiative that will raise the state's cigarette tax by $1 per pack and fund tobacco prevention and control programs and new cancer research. Increasing the tobacco tax will save lives, prevent youth smoking, encourage smokers to quit and lower health care costs from tobacco-related diseases.

In California, tobacco use continues to take a significant toll on public health and taxpayer dollars. Nearly four million people in California smoke, and tobacco-related illness remains the number one preventable cause of death in the state, responsible for more than 36,000 deaths each year - that's more people lost to tobacco than alcohol, HIV/AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.

About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit lungusa.org/california.

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