Jul 28, 2014
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Santee's Not Alone With F Grade for Tobacco Control

The city was again the lowest scoring in the county in this year's American Lung Association's 2014 report on tobacco control policies.

Santee's Not Alone With F Grade for Tobacco Control

Santee's not alone in being graded an "F" Wednesday in the American Lung Association's 2014 report on tobacco control policies. Most cities in San Diego County received poor grades.

Though other cities scored F's, Santee was the only city to score F's in each category of the report, which analyzes localities push to reduce tobacco use through policies restricting sales, providing smoke-free housing and limiting exposure to second-hand smoke. Santee was the only city in the county to score an F in the "Smokefree Outdoor Air" category. Santee has scored F's in each category since Santee Patch began reporting on it.

The report gained notoriety in Santee when in 2011 Mayor Randy Veopel wrote a op-ed defending the low grade as a sign of freedom in the city ( Santee Mayor Explains City's 'F for Freedom' Tobacco Grade). This was followed by a  grassroots effort to ban smoking in Santee parks that has since died down.

The highest marks for overall tobacco control were given to El Cajon and Solana Beach, each of which received a B grade. They were rewarded for licensing tobacco retailers. Additionally, El Cajon was lauded for banning smoking in common areas of multi-family housing units. The City Council is also considering a ban the sale of electronic cigarettes.

The city of San Diego received a D.

Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Oceanside, Poway, San Marcos and Santee were each given F grades, as was the unincorporated county.

"We are proud of the work being done in San Diego and Imperial (counties) to protect residents from the harmful effects of tobacco," said Joe Kellejian, the former mayor of Solana Beach and a member of the Lung Association's San Diego Leadership Board.

"However, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S.," Kellejian said. "We must renew our commitment to stopping tobacco from robbing another generation of their health."

Cities were assigned points by a review of various tobacco-control policies, ranging from smoking restrictions at restaurants and public areas to smoke-free housing and restrictions on tobacco sales near schools and parks.

The association gave out A grades to 18 cities and counties in the state. More than 60 percent of cities in the state received an overall F grade.

Statewide, the report gave California an A grade for its smoke-free air policies, but a D for having a low cigarette tax, an F for insufficient funding of tobacco-prevention and control programs and an F for poor coverage of smoking treatment services.

"The policies reflected in this report demonstrate the leadership at the local level to ensure that all Californians breathe clean and healthy air," according to Marsha Ramos, chair of the Lung Association's California Governing Board. "No matter how big or small the city or county, local tobacco- control policies save lives. Tobacco use continues to take a tool on the lives of both adults and kids, so these grades represent real health consequences."

-City News Service

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