Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Davis a lone bright spot in anti-smoking efforts

Davis was the only city in Yolo County to receive an overall passing grade from the American Lung Association for tobacco control efforts last year.

The city received the highest grade in the Sacramento region — a B for overall tobacco control — in a report released Wednesday, but the rest of the county did not fare as well, with West Sacramento, Woodland and the unincorporated areas of the county all receiving a grade of D and Winters earning an F.

The overall grades were based on three categories — smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free housing and reducing sales of tobacco products.

The city of Davis actually earned A grades for two of those categories — smoke-free outdoor air and reducing sales of tobacco products — but received a D for smoke-free housing. The rest of the county, meanwhile, received an F in the latter category.

California law allows cities and counties to enact restrictions on secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing, but other than Davis’ restriction on smoking in indoor common areas of housing complexes, no other ordinances exist in the county, according to the American Lung Association. The rest of the state hasn’t fared much better.

“While California has been a leader on protections from secondhand smoke,” the association said, “one area where people continue to be unprotected is in multi-unit housing. Secondhand smoke exposure in multi-unit housing is a serious health threat because secondhand smoke drifts into housing units from other units, balconies, patios and common areas.”

Davis scored much higher when it comes to smoke-free outdoor air.

Under California law, cities and counties have explicit authority to go beyond state law to enact secondhand smoke restrictions in outdoor areas, including restaurant dining areas, entryways, public events, recreation areas and service areas.

The city of Davis has done the most of all Yolo County cities in that regard, restricting smoking in outdoor dining areas, within 20 feet or more of entryways, at service areas (such as bus stops) and at public events, as well as in some recreation areas.

Woodland was second-best — earning a C in that category — with restrictions on smoking near entryways, in recreation areas and at public events and Winters earned a D for its restrictions in recreation areas.

West Sacramento, meanwhile, received an F, as did the unincorporated portion of the county.

But both Davis and West Sacramento received high marks for reducing sales of tobacco products. Both earned A grades — as did Yolo County — largely for tobacco retailer licensing.

Under state law, city and counties can require tobacco retailers to obtain a license to sell tobacco products, allowing municipalities to keep track of tobacco retailers, conduct enforcement activities to ensure compliance with state and local laws and penalize retailers who sell to minors.

But while Davis, West Sacramento and Yolo County earned the highest marks for that, both Winters and Woodland received F grades for a lack of licensing.

Overall, the state showed a lack of progress in tobacco reduction, according to the American Lung Association.

Once a national leader in tobacco control policies, the association said, California is now falling behind in protecting its citizens from tobacco. Just 9 percent of cities and counties earned an overall grade of A or B from the association.

And while the state itself earned an A grade for smoke-free air policies, California received a D for its low cigarette tax, an F for failing to sufficiently fund tobacco prevention and control programs and another F for poor coverage of smoking cessation and treatment services.

“Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the (United States),” said Stephanie Yoder, who chairs the American Lung Association’s Sacramento Leadership Board.

“We must renew our commitment to stopping tobacco from robbing another generation of their health and continue striving for reduced smoking rates,” Yoder said.

The association did applaud the University of California for recent smoking restrictions enacted systemwide.

“We’re really excited about the UCs,” said Erin Reynoso of the Sacramento chapter.

And Yolo County has taken steps recently to combat an increase in smoking among minors.

The Board of Supervisors last month allocated $170,000 for the development of a comprehensive tobacco prevention action plan targeting youths and young adults and providing cessation services to the county’s mental health clients, 40 percent of whom are smokers.

Yolo County Health Officer Constance Caldwell had cited an alarming increase in smoking by the county’s youth in requesting the funding. According to Caldwell, youth smoking more than doubled between 2007 and 2011.

As Caldwell did then, the American Lung Association on Wednesday pointed the finger at tobacco companies that continue to target young people.

“More than 30,000 kids start smoking each year in the state,” the association reported. “Meanwhile, the tobacco industry continued its ruthless pursuit of addicting new users and keeping current users from quitting in 2013. This included efforts at the federal and state levels to exempt their products from meaningful public health protections.

“As cigarette use continues to gradually decline, these companies continue to maintain their stranglehold on America’s youth and reap profits from smokeless tobacco, cigars and now e-cigarettes,” the association said.

See the American Lung Association’s full report at http://www.lung.org/associations/states/california/advocacy/fight-/state-of-tobacco-control-2014.html

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at aternus@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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