California flunks tobacco control goals

Used cigarette butts on an ashtray. Public domain photo via CDC/ Debora Cartagena.

Efforts to reduce tobacco use remains at a virtual standstill in most Los Angeles County cities, and across the state, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Lung Association.

The “State of Tobacco Control 2015” report noted that some Los Angeles County cities lead the state with strong anti-smoking policies, but the mixed bag of letter grades assigned to other area cities highlighted a need for elected officials to improve efforts to “protect residents from tobacco-related death and disease.”

“Despite improvements, more still needs to be done in Los Angeles to better protect residents from the harmful effects of smoking,” said Daniel Oh, chairman of the American Lung Association in California — Los Angeles Leadership Board. “We have a lot of work to do to safeguard public health from tobacco-related illnesses. Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S., and we must take the necessary steps to ensure a tobacco-free environment for our community.”

Baldwin Park, Compton, Glendale, Huntington Park, Pasadena and Santa Monica all earned an overall grade of A, repeating their honors from last year. Two cities that had A grades last year — Calabasas and South Pasadena — slipped to B grades in this year’s report.

The grades are compiled based on three overall criteria — smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free housing and reducing sales of tobacco products.

Los Angeles received an overall C grade, earning an F for its smoke-free housing policies and a C for policies on providing smoke-free outdoor air, but scoring an A for efforts to reduce tobacco sales.

Long Beach, the county’s second-largest city, also earned a C grade.

A total of 47 cities in Los Angeles County received overall F grades.

In Orange County, there were no A grades, with 31 of 34 cities receiving F grades.

Unincorporated areas in both Los Angeles and Orange counties areas were also deemed an F.

— Staff and wire reports