Failing Grades Across San Diego County on American Lung Association Tobacco Report

(January 24, 2012)

The American Lung Association has assigned failing grades to nearly all San Diego communities in its State of Tobacco Control 2012 report issued last week. California as a whole also received dismal rankings from the group in most areas of study.

In the localized report, cities and counties were rated on three criteria: smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free housing, and actions taken to reduce the sale of tobacco products. While the cities of Del Mar, El Cajon, and Solana Beach received high marks for restricting smoking in outdoor public places, all 18 cities rated and the unincorporated county regions received an “F” grade when it came to ensuring the availability of housing units that ban all tobacco use. El Cajon, San Diego, Solana Beach, and Vista were alone in avoiding “F” grades in restricting access to tobacco, mostly buoyed by retailer licensing laws. El Cajon and Solana Beach received overall marks of “B” in the report, Vista received the sole “C,” and all other cities were ranked “D” or”F.”

San Diego communities weren’t alone in their low marks – fully 66 percent of the California communities rated – 355 in all, received an “F” grade. By contrast, only nine got an “A” rating.

In the national version of the report, California received an “A” grade in the smoke-free air category, the lone bright spot for the state among four areas of assessment. The state receives a failing grade for spending only $80 million annually on tobacco use prevention and control, despite a Centers for Disease Control recommended spending level near $442 million. California also received low marks for under-funding smoking cessation programs and for a relatively low state tax rate of 87 cents per pack.

In June, voters will consider the California Cancer Research Act, a proposal to increase cigarette taxes by $1.00 per pack, with revenues being funneled into research on cancer and lung disease, as well as funding expanded prevention and smoking cessation programs.

“The California Cancer Research Act is an historic opportunity for California voters to provide more than $855 million annually to fund research for cancer and other tobacco-related diseases as well as proven tobacco prevention, education, and law enforcement efforts which will prevent 228,700 kids in California from becoming addicted smokers,” said Jane Warner, the American Lung Association in California’s president and CEO, speaking in support of the measure.