By Alex Distefano
According to a recently released report, California received mixed grades, when it comes to anti-tobacco efforts and programs to reduce the ill effects of cigarette use among smokers and non smokers. There was some good news for Golden State residents: the overall rate of adult smokers decreased to just under 14 percent of the population, according to the American Lung Association’s report.
Locally, the Inland Empire was a mixed bag of high and low marks. Speaking of low, recently released Riverside County data shows that folks in this region are lighting up cancer sticks more often.
Temecula, Murrieta and Loma Linda were among the IE cities considered to be doing the best job keeping their communities unfriendly to the Marlboro Man. The rest of the IE earned C, D and F marks. San Bernardino County cities earned 22 F grades and two D grades.
Not surprisingly, the report concluded that California, compared to other states, is lacking when it comes to anti-tobacco efforts such as increasing the tax on cigarettes, making it more difficult to obtain a permit to sell tobacco products and spending more money on anti-smoking education and campaigns directed towards young people.
The State of Tobacco Control, which acts as a report card for states and their municipalities, showed that California got an overall F grade (Phillip-Morrison must be smiling). This, according to the report, was because of the $68.6 million spent per year on anti-smoking education is only 15.5 percent of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends. Furthermore, the state is not pushing hard enough to make medical insurance companies pay for anti-smoking medications and treatments.
“This report was to raise awareness about what is going on statewide and at local levels,” Terry Roberts, local director for the American Lung Association, tells the Weekly. “We want to educate people.”
Roberts said that the city of Temecula should serve as a role model for other cities, not just in the state but across the country. The report analyzed policies that regulate public areas where people are allowed to smoke. Roberts also says that information on regulating smoke-free policies in terms of housing, and the difficulty in getting a tobacco license is factored in to the report’s overall grade for a city.
Temecula stands out in the report, according to Roberts, because of efforts by its city council’s anti-smoking policies—in particular two ordinances passed in 2007.