Cities in San Bernardino County mostly score Fs in survey on tobacco control

(January 19, 2012)

This is the kind of report card kids bury in the desert rather than take home.

In grading California's 480 incorporated cities and towns on tobacco control, the American Lung Association gave only one B for San Bernardino County - in Loma Linda.

Adelanto and Rancho Cucamonga got Ds.

Everybody else - all Fs.

But there was plenty of company, 66 percent of all jurisdictions in the state also received an F for their overall tobacco grade.

"With few exceptions, 2011 was an abysmal year for state tobacco control policies across the country," the American Lung Association said in its report released Thursday.

"Once a leader in tobacco control policies, California's efforts are now lagging. 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," the report said.

California spends $1.18 cents per smoker while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends $10.53 per smoker, said Terry Roberts, American Lung Association, area director for San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

As a health professional who has worked on smoking cessation for many years, Ernest Medina Jr. said he was shocked that the state allocates such a small amount of funding for smoking cessation.

"This is not covered by many medical plans," said Medina, who is a preventative care specialist at Beaver Group in Redlands.

Loma Linda received the highest marks in the county, achieving a B for its overall smoking policies. Loma earned an A for creating an environment of smokefree outdoor air and smokefree housing. But the city got a F for reducing sales of tobacco products.

Among the Southern California cities receiving an overall grade of A were Calabasas, Compton, Baldwin Park, Glendale, Pasadena and Temecula.

The city of Los Angeles received a C, San Diego a D, Long Beach a C, and Anaheim an F.

California ranks 33rd in the nation for its 87 cent tax on a pack of cigarettes. The national average is $1.46.

The report recommends that local elected officials protect their communities from tobacco and secondhand smoke by passing ordinances to:

Prevent smoking in parks.

Require nonsmoking apartment units.

Prevent illegal sales of tobacco to youth.

Poor state and local grades demonstrate the need for California to pass the California Cancer Research Act on the June ballot, the American Lung Association says.

The measure would increase the state's tobacco tax by $1 per pack and dedicate revenues to the treatment, prevention and ultimately, cures for lung disease, heart disease as well as stroke, cancer and other tobacco-related illnesses.

If approved, the measure would triple state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation efforts.


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