New Lung Association Report: Ending Tobacco Use in Poway Critical to Saving Lives, Especially during Pandemic

Even amid the pandemic, tobacco use remains a serious public health threat. In addition to tobacco-related death and disease, smoking also increases the risk of developing the most severe impacts of COVID-19*, making ending tobacco use more important than ever. This year’s “State of Tobacco Control: California Grades” report from the American Lung Association rates city and county efforts to reduce tobacco use and calls for meaningful policies that will prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives. The City of Poway received a grade of “F” in the report, indicating room to increase efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use through adopting such policies as smoke-free outdoor dining for local restaurants.

“Our goal is to protect the people of Poway from the harmful effects of tobacco, and one of the first steps is preventing smoking in public spaces such as restaurant patios,” said Pierra Moise, Health Promotions Specialist with the American Lung Association. Poway is one of the few cities in San Diego County that still allows smoking and vaping on restaurant patios.

Tobacco use remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 480,000 lives every year**. Much like COVID-19, tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure disproportionately impact certain groups, including children, communities of color, the LGTBQ+ community, and persons of lower income. “State of Tobacco Control” may be used as a tool to develop the important policies needed to reduce tobacco use and prevent youth from ever starting a habit that could lead to addiction and serious health ramifications, including death. The report looks at factors such as whether the city has policies prohibiting smoking and vaping in public spaces like restaurant patios, at community events, and in multi-unit housing developments. In San Diego County, the City of El Cajon received an “A” grade on the report, in part due to their bold efforts to adopt tobacco-related policies. 

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** U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking - 50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. 2014

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