Lung association: Contra Costa cities should follow Richmond's anti-tobacco lead
By Chris Treadway
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 01/12/2010 02:13:58 PM PST
Updated: 01/12/2010 03:35:53 PM PST
While most Contra Costa cities received failing or near-failing marks for efforts to curtail and control tobacco use in 2009, the American Lung Association of California on Tuesday lauded a notable exception.
The association chose Richmond City Hall to release its annual State of Tobacco Control report card because new tobacco-focused ordinances took the city from an F in 2008 to an A in 2009.
Richmond "is not only a leader in the state, but a leader in the nation," said Jane Warner, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of California.
The association and the city worked together on several ordinances during the past year that restrict tobacco use in outdoor areas, impose fees on sellers, and place limits on tobacco sales and displays. However, the city's smoking ban in all multiunit housing drew the highest praise.
Association officials called the law the strongest restriction in the United States to protect residents from secondhand smoke.
The report cited similar, though less-stringent, restrictions enacted by other jurisdictions among the few advances in 2009 for California's effort to minimize the health hazards of smoking. Cities received grades in the categories of smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free housing and efforts to reduce sales of tobacco products.
In Contra Costa, 12 of 19 cities received an overall grade of F, and five earned a D. Richmond received the only A; Martinez and the county's unincorporated areas received a B. Two-thirds of California cities received an overall F, while Albany, Calabasas and Glendale joined Richmond as the only A grades.
Oakland received a B for its efforts, San Francisco a C and San Jose a D.
Other jurisdictions should "find it a pretty easy road" to follow Richmond's example and, unlike most legislation, the positive consequences will be measurably noticeable, said Richmond City Councilman Tom Butt. He called the recognition for the city "a very proud moment for me both personally and as a council member," and noting that both his parents died from smoking-related illness.
Tobacco control efforts at the state level received an overall F, due in large part to California's subpar spending on prevention and control: $79 million, or less than one-fifth of funding recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The lung association took the opportunity to call for support of a November ballot measure that would increase the state tobacco tax by $1 per pack, saying it would decrease the number of people starting or continuing to smoke while increasing funding for control, prevention and research.
Warner cited projections that 36,000 teenagers in California will begin smoking and 40,000 Californians will die from tobacco-related illnesses in 2010.
"We have got to stop this vicious cycle," she said.
Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784. Follow him at Twitter.com/christreadway.
View the American Lung Association of California's full "Raise the Grade" report at www.californialung.org.