The American Lung Association has graded all California cities and counties on tobacco control policies, and Laguna Beach has earned a big fat 'F'.
In a detailed PDF file titled "State of Tobacco Control 2013," and using a point grading system where high numbers meant cities did good jobs at regulating tobacco and low numbers meant they didn't, Laguna Beach's overall score came out to a 1. The city earned a 'D' grade with its ability to regulate smoke-free outdoor environments, but received 'F' grades in smoke-free housing and how the city reduces sales of tobacco products.
The report is part of a larger ALA examination that tracks progress on tobacco control policies at the federal and state levels, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting residents from smoke and tobacco.
Many cities in Orange and Los Angeles counties also got the 'F' grade, but a few earned an 'A'. The report cites Santa Monica for last year "making advances in protecting residents from secondhand smoke by passing a comprehensive smoke-free housing ordinance."
Santa Ana adopted an ordinance to prevent smoking in recreation areas, raising their grade from a 'D' to a 'C.' Laguna Hills and Laguna Woods also earned C grades, the highest marks in OC.
To view the complete California report, including grades for cities in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, click here or click the PDF file in the photo box above this story (Laguna Beach shows up on page 55)..
Here is the rest of the ALA's news release announcing the report:
“Cities and counties in California have always led the way with strong tobacco control policies, and we want to ensure that continues,” said Afif El-Hasan, MD, Board Member, American Lung Association in California Governing Board. “Safeguarding our communities from the negative consequences of tobacco is critical. These grades represent real health consequences.”
Once a national leader in tobacco control policies, California’s efforts are now lagging. While the state earned an A grade for smokefree air policies, it received a D for its low cigarette tax, an F for failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and control programs, and another F for poor coverage of smoking cessation and treatment services.
Exacerbating California’s weakened position on tobacco prevention, the state has not increased its cigarette tax since 1999 and now ranks 33rd in the country at 87 cents per pack, compared to the US average of $1.48 per pack. States including Texas, Oklahoma and Montana now have higher tobacco taxes than California.
Although California receives $68 million in tobacco-related revenue annually, it spends a meager 15 percent of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to adequately fund tobacco prevention programs and services to help people quit smoking.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the failure of states to invest in policies and programs to reduce tobacco use has resulted in 3 million new youth smokers in the United States. Every year in California, 34,400 kids start smoking while tobacco use causes an estimated 37,000 deaths annually and costs the state’s economy more than $18 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity - a tremendous burden that the state cannot afford.
“The California Legislature must make it a priority to pass a tobacco tax and invest the money in California’s pioneering tobacco prevention program,” said Marsha Ramos, Chair, American Lung Association in California Governing Board. “Tobacco taxes for tobacco prevention will save the state billions of dollars in health care costs while preventing kids from ever beginning to smoke and helping current smokers quit.”
Despite progress at the local level, California joins many other states in neglecting to implement proven strategies to save lives and reduce tobacco-caused disease. This year’s State of Tobacco Control report shows that money is often at the root of the leading cause of preventable death, as state policymakers fail to fight tobacco interests.
A tobacco industry contributions report by the American Lung Association in California’s Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing shows that tobacco interests spent nearly $5 million during the first year of the 2011-2012 election cycle (January 2011-June 2012) to influence state legislators and policies in California. In addition, Big Tobacco spent more than $46 million to defeat Proposition 29 in June 2012, which would have increased California’s cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack and directed over $600 million annually to cancer research, tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs.
“We need to do more to fight the influence of tobacco interests in California politics,” said Ramos. “It’s time for the California Legislature to remove Big Tobacco’s welcome mat. Our state elected officials have an opportunity to change course in 2013 and make big strides in the fight to end tobacco-caused death and disease. It’s going to take a great deal of political will, but we are confident our elected officials are up to the challenge. Our children’s health is depending on them.”