The American Lung Association in California gave the city of Watsonville a B rating for its tobacco policies — the best of any city in Santa Cruz County.
This marks the third year in a row that Watsonville has beat the competition in the county.
The annual report, which was released Wednesday, issues grades for all cities and counties in California on local tobacco control policies including those for smokefree outdoor environments, smokefree housing, and reducing sales of tobacco products.
Watsonville received the same exact score this year as in 2012, only getting bad marks in smokefree housing.
Overall, the association said the state of California "falls short in adequately funding tobacco prevention programs to protect children and curb tobacco-caused disease." California earned an A grade for its smokefree air policies but received a D for its low cigarette tax, an F for failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and control programs, and another F for poor coverage of smoking cessation and treatment services.
“Cities and counties in California have always led the way with strong tobacco control policies, and that continues to this day,” said Fred Lurmann, Chair of the Leadership Board of the American Lung Association in California – Greater Bay Area. “Safeguarding our communities from the negative consequences of tobacco is critical. The low grades represent real health consequences.”
The association also criticized the state for not increasing its cigarette tax since 1999 and spending only 15 percent of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to adequately fund tobacco prevention programs and services to help people quit smoking.
There are about 3 million new youth smokers in the U.S. and 34,400 in California every year. About 37,000 deaths are caused by tobacco use, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
“We need to do more to fight the influence of tobacco interests in California politics,” said American Lung Association in California Chairwoman Marsha Ramos. “Our state elected officials have an opportunity to change course in 2013 and make big strides in the fight to end tobacco-caused death and disease. It’s going to take a great deal of political will, but we are confident our elected officials are up to the challenge. Our children’s health is depending on them.”Santa Cruz County State of Tobacco Control 2013 Overall Grade Smokefree Outdoor Air Smokefree Housing Reducing Sales of Tobacco Prodcuts Watsonville B B D A Scotts Valley D C D F Santa Cruz D B D F Capitola D C D F Unincorporated County C D D A
To view the complete California report, visit www.lung.org/california.