Tobacco Report Card Shows Mixed Grades for San Diego County in Protecting Communities Against Tobacco

Jan 20, 2011, 09:00 ET from American Lung Association in California

The State of Tobacco Control Report provides first-ever grades for all cities and counties in state, urges political leadership to "raise the grade."

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Lung Association in California released its annual State of Tobacco Control report that issues grades to cities and counties in California on key tobacco control policies, including those for smokefree outdoor environments, smokefree housing, and reducing sales of tobacco products. This year for the first time, the American Lung Association in California graded all 480 incorporated cities and towns, and all 58 counties in the state. In addition to local grades, the State of Tobacco Control 2010 issues grades for the federal government, all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  

Citing mixed results at every level for the state, American Lung Association in California San Diego Leadership Board Chair, Mark Johnson said, "It's time to raise the grade. Strong local tobacco control policies must be a top priority for our elected officials."

El Cajon and Solana Beach received the highest grades in San Diego County with an overall B grade. The city of San Diego received an overall D grade and grades were mixed throughout the county. In order to protect residents in San Diego County from the dangers of secondhand smoke and the negative health consequences of tobacco use, more needs to be done at the local level to pass policies and raise the grades. The first step is to increase public knowledge about local policies that help protect residents, recognize leadership where steps have been taken and continue to encourage leadership and political will where improvement is needed.

In 2010, a total of 38 municipalities adopted new tobacco policies to protect their citizens and raise their grades.  While many jurisdictions adopted strong policies and improved their grades, this year's report shows that the majority of cities and counties in California still fail to protect residents from the harmful effects of tobacco use. In total, 359 cities and counties – 67 percent of jurisdictions in the state – received an F for their overall tobacco grade.

To view a full copy of State of Tobacco Control 2010 and to see all city and county grades, go to

Once a national leader in tobacco control policies, California now earns mixed results. While California earned an A for smokefree air policies, the state receives an F for failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and control programs, another F for poor coverage of smoking cessation treatments and services, and a D for its low cigarette tax.  Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, California now ranks 33rd for its $.87 per pack tax, far below the national average of $1.45.

"California's tobacco tax is too low," said Jane Warner, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California. "Cigarettes are too cheap and we are failing to adequately protect our children from becoming regular cigarette smokers."

That is why the American Lung Association in California is co-sponsoring the California Cancer Research Act, a ballot initiative that will raise the state's cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack and fund tobacco prevention and control programs and new cancer research.  Increasing the tobacco tax will save lives, prevent youth smoking, encourage smokers to quit and lower health care costs from tobacco-related diseases.

In California, tobacco use continues to take a significant toll on public health and taxpayer dollars. Nearly four million people in California smoke, and tobacco-related illness remains the number one preventable cause of death in the state, responsible for more than 36,000 deaths each year – that's more people lost to tobacco than alcohol, HIV/AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.

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Media Contact: Debra Kelley, (619) 683-7519,

SOURCE American Lung Association in California