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City put out by ‘F’ grade

Health: Report on tobacco prevention gives failing marks; officials tout task force efforts

Posted: January 20, 2011 9:45 p.m.
Updated: January 21, 2011 4:30 a.m.

The city of Santa Clarita earned a failing grade for its inadequate tobacco-control policies in a statewide report card released Thursday.

The American Lung Association annual report rates the effectiveness of the policies for all 480 cities and 58 counties in California regarding three key prevention efforts: smoke-free outdoor environments, smoke-free housing and limiting local retail tobacco sales.

Santa Clarita, along with the bulk of California’s cities and counties, received an overall “F” grade for its efforts to curtail tobacco use within city limits.

City spokeswoman Gail Ortiz praised the association for promoting tobacco-free communities, but said the organization falls short when it comes to evaluating cities based on their individual needs.

Ortiz cited the report’s emphasis on reducing tobacco sales in city business districts, noting Santa Clarita lacks an official business district.

She also touted Santa Clarita’s Blue Ribbon Task Force, a city-run group that works to educate the community about teen alcohol, drug and tobacco use.

“We work hand in hand with our 150 businesses that sell cigarettes to make sure they are not selling to minors,” she said.

However, Ortiz noted that while the city encourages local retailers to limit tobacco sales, it doesn’t prohibit these sales.

In a 2009 survey conducted by Los Angeles County’s Tobacco Control and Prevention Program, Ortiz noted, Santa Clarita had the lowest countywide rate of tobacco sales to minors at 9.2 percent.

The association’s policy coordinator Justin Garrett acknowledged that the report only grades cities and counties on their tobacco-control laws, leaving out other community preventative efforts.

But he also said the ALA recommends a more hands-on approach toward local businesses’ tobacco sales.

“Voluntary business efforts can only go so far,” he said. “A local licensing ordinance will have real enforcement. … We believe that is the best way to ensure that businesses do not sell (tobacco) to minors.”

Meanwhile, Santa Clarita was graded a “D” on its outdoor tobacco-control policies, which prohibit smoking in public parks and facilities, open space and trails.

The city does not currently regulate smoking on private property, an area in which Santa Clarita earned an “F.”


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