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FIle: Isaiah Atkinson smokes a cigarette in front of the San Francisco Centre on May 31, 2011 in San Francisco.
Of California's more than 400 cities, only 17 made the American Lung Association in California's top rankings for tobacco control policies. Nine of them are in Southern California.
Baldwin Park, Calabasas, Compton, Glendale, Huntington Park, Pasadena, Santa Monica, South Pasadena and Temecula received “A” grades for policies that reduce tobacco sales and promote smoke-free environments.
But Wednesday's report, the State of Tobacco Control 2013 – California Local Grades, went on to list 339 cities and unincorporated regions that received an overall failing grade in tobacco control.
“That’s two-thirds of all municipalities in California,” said Vanessa Marvin, advocacy director for the American Lung Association in California. “We’re really hoping that elected officials and city council members in those communities step up to the plate and raise the grade in order to protect the residents of their communities from the harms of tobacco.”
Marvin says among the most effective ways California could discourage smoking is by raising the tax on a pack of cigarettes, which at the current $0.87 a pack is well below the national average of $1.48.
“We get a “D” in our overall tobacco tax in California in the national report card,” Marvin said, referring to the national report by the American Lung Associations, also released Wednesday. Both are annual rankings.
State of Tobacco Control 2013 lists California as 33rd in the nation for its cigarette tax, which is lower than Texas, Oklahoma and Montana, Marvin says.
“Most people think that the tobacco problem is solved and any adult who wants to quit can,” she says. “But with the number of youth who are starting every year, it’s an ongoing problem that we have to make sure we’re addressing.”
An estimated 34.400 California youngsters begin smoking each year, she said. And about 37,000 people die of tobacco-related diseases each year.
Marvin says cities and counties can help protect citizens of all ages by banning smoking in outdoor areas where people eat, gather and play; by imposing no smoking policies in public housing and by preventing children and teenagers from gaining access to tobacco.