Santa Clara County outpaces San Mateo County in anti-tobacco efforts

(January 19, 2012)

Santa Clara County continues to be a state leader in demonstrating political will for strong tobacco-control policies, while San Mateo County and other regions of California appear to be lagging, according to a report card released Thursday by the American Lung Association.

For the second time in two years, Santa Clara County scored an overall A for its efforts in banning tobacco smoke from dining and recreation areas, among other places; creating smoke-free housing; and reducing the sales of tobacco products. By contrast, San Jose scored an overall C for the same three categories, while the rest of the cities in the county scored either a D or an F.

"I am extremely proud of Santa Clara County and the steps we've taken to raise our grade," said Ken Yeager, Santa Clara County supervisor, in a statement. In 2010, the county scored an overall grade of F.

San Mateo County did not fare as well as its neighbor to the south, earning an overall grade of D. Of the 20 cities in San Mateo County, 13 received an F, four got a D and two notched a C. Belmont, which enacted bans on smoking in parks and apartments in 2009, earned the lone B.

At the state level, California has slipped from its former position as a national leader in tobacco control policies, the report said.

The state received an F for failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and control programs, and a D for its low cigarette tax. California ranks 33rd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia for its $0.87 per pack tax, far below the national average of $1.46. While California earned an A for smoke-free air policies, the state received another F for poor coverage of smoking cessation and treatment services.

However, Thursday's report card also revealed improvements in 45 California cities and counties after they had passed ordinances in at least one of the three grade categories in 2011.

For example, San Jose went from an F to a D in reducing sales of tobacco products, while Campbell went from an F to an A in smoke-free outdoor air. Cupertino went from an F to a D in the same category, and Los Altos went from an F to D in that category as well. Santa Cruz County went from an F to an A in reducing sales of tobacco products. But it was a stale year in San Mateo County -- none of its cities made the list of places that have improved their policies.

The grades are based on tobacco control laws and regulations in effect as of Jan. 1 and can be viewed at www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org.

Whatever their city's or county's grade, Yeager is encouraging residents and elected officials throughout California to endorse and help pass the California Cancer Research Act.

"It is the single, most important thing we can do to raise the grade in California and protect our children from the deadly impacts of tobacco," said Yeager.

 

Silicon Valley Mercury News