UPDATE: Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014
Napa County's report card for tobacco control actually shows a "D" grade for the county's unincorporated areas, lower than reported yesterday.
Also, the individual towns of American Canyon, St. Helena, Yountville, Calistoga and Napa all scored "F," according to a corrected reading of the Napa County data.
Yesterday's story included an incorrect reading of the Napa County data.
Pam Granger, North Coast advocacy manager for the American Lung Association in California, said Napa County data grid chart uses an average grade for the three report card factors: smokefree outdoors; smokefree housing; and reducing tobacco sales.
Although many apartment complexes, restaurants and businesses in Napa Valley have their own smokefree policies, the report only measures local smokefree ordinances -- such as those adopted last year in San Rafael and Petaluma. Voluntary ordinances adopted by landlords, business and restaurant owners do not count in the report, she said.
"The best practices have shown that passing policies as ordinances or laws saves lives," Granger said.
For example, she said a landlord could voluntarily institute a smokefree policy in his or her apartment complex parking lot. But if the complex were sold, a new owner might decide that he or she did not want to continue the voluntary policy.
'The report is only based on local smokefree ordinances," Granger said. "The voluntary policies are not reflected in this report."
PREVIOUSLY: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014
Napa County scored only a "C" grade in the American Lung Association's "State of Tobacco Control 2014" report released today.
The various areas of the county scored a collective seven points out of a possible 12 in measures such as smokefree housing, smokefree outdoor areas and reducing sales of tobacco products.
Napa was not alone. Lung association officials said the "battle to reduce tobacco use has all but stalled" in most cities and counties in the North Coast.
"Fifty years after the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health was issued on January 11, 1964, the Lung Association’s new report finds that our nation as a whole must renew its commitment to eliminate tobacco-caused death and disease," officials said in a press release.
Locally, however, several municipalities in the North Coast are leading the state with strong tobacco control policies.
San Rafael and Marin County once again received the top overall tobacco control grades in the region with an A. In addition, the city of Petaluma adopted strong smokefree housing and outdoor ordinances in 2013, raising their overall grade to a B.
Petaluma joins seven municipalities in the region (Mill Valley, Novato, Sebastopol, Sausalito, Larkspur, Rohnert Park, and Sonoma County) with an overall B grade.
“We are proud of the work being done in the North Coast to protect residents from the harmful effects of tobacco,” Mark DiGiorgio, Chair, American Lung Association in California – Greater Bay Area Leadership Board.
“However, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S. We must renew our commitment to stopping tobacco from robbing another generation of their health,” DiGiorgio urged.
The State of Tobacco Control 2014 report tracks yearly progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state levels, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy.
This year’s report highlights the 50th anniversary of the historic 1964 Surgeon General’s report that linked smoking to lung cancer and other diseases for the first time.
In conjunction with the national report, the American Lung Association in California released its State of Tobacco Control 2014 – California Local Grades, which issues grades for all 482 cities and 58 counties in California on local tobacco control policies.
Once a national leader in tobacco control policies, California is now falling behind in protecting its citizens from tobacco, officials said.
While the state earned an A grade for smokefree air policies, it received a D for its low cigarette tax, an F for failing to sufficiently fund tobacco prevention and control programs, and another F for poor coverage of smoking cessation and treatment services.
Many municipalities throughout California have passed local ordinances to protect their communities from the harmful effects of tobacco, despite the lack of action at the state level.
In 2013, a total of 40 cities and counties adopted new policies. However, while many communities took action to improve their grades, a total of 330 cities and counties throughout the state – more than 60 percent of all municipalities – received an F for their overall tobacco grade.
“The policies reflected in this report demonstrate the leadership at the local level to ensure that all Californians breathe clean and healthy air,” said Marsha Ramos, Chair, American Lung Association in California Governing Board. “No matter how big or small the city or county, local tobacco control policies saves lives. Tobacco use continues to take a toll on the lives of both adults and kids, so these grades represent real health consequences.
In the 50 years since the first Surgeon General’s report, 8 million lives were saved because of tobacco control efforts. In 1964, the national smoking rate was at 42 percent, more than double today’s rate of 18 percent.
Despite these improvements and progress shown at the local level, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the nation. In California, tobacco use causes an estimated 36,000 deaths annually. More than 30,000 kids start smoking each year in the state, and tobacco use costs the state’s economy $18.1 billion in combined health care and lost productivity – a tremendous burden that California cannot afford.
Meanwhile, the tobacco industry continued its ruthless pursuit of addicting new users and keeping current users from quitting in 2013. This included efforts at the federal and state levels to exempt their products from meaningful public health protections.
The three largest cigarette manufacturers—Altria, Reynolds American, and Lorillard—continued their aggressive expansion into tobacco products other than cigarettes in 2013. As cigarette use continues to gradually decline, these companies continue to maintain their stranglehold on America’s youth and reap profits from smokeless tobacco, cigars and now e-cigarettes.
“I urge everyone to join the American Lung Association in California and renew their commitment to preventing another 50 years of tobacco caused death and disease,” said Ramos.