The American Lung Association in California gave the city of Lake Elsinore a D and the city of Wildomar a C rating for its tobacco policies.
The annual report, which was released Wednesday, issues grades for all cities and counties in California on local tobacco control policies including those for smokefree outdoor environments, smokefree housing, and reducing sales of tobacco products.
Although Lake Elsinore and Wildomar received average grades, the association said the state of California "falls short in adequately funding tobacco prevention programs to protect children and curb tobacco-caused disease." California earned an A grade for its smokefree air policies but received a D for its low cigarette tax, an F for failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and control programs, and another F for poor coverage of smoking cessation and treatment services.
“Tobacco use continues to take a toll on the lives of both adults and children, and dramatically increases health care costs for both smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke,” said American Lung Association in California–Inland Board Member Allen Merritt. “These grades represent real health consequences. We know how to win the fight against tobacco, but it requires strong leadership and action by elected officials at all levels.”
The association also criticized the state for not increasing its cigarette tax since 1999 and spending only 15 percent of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to adequately fund tobacco prevention programs and services to help people quit smoking.
“We need to do more to fight the influence of tobacco interests in California politics,” said American Lung Association in California Chairwoman Marsha Ramos. “Our state elected officials have an opportunity to change course in 2013 and make big strides in the fight to end tobacco-caused death and disease. It’s going to take a great deal of political will, but we are confident our elected officials are up to the challenge. Our children’s health is depending on them.”
There are about 3 million new youth smokers in the U.S. and 34,400 in California every year. About 37,000 deaths are caused by tobacco use, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
To view the complete California report, visit www.lung.org/california. A full report for Riverside is attached to this article as a PDF.