Piedmont Flunks the Tobacco Test

The American Lung Association issued its annual report on municipal anti-smoking regulations today.

Piedmont received a 'F' report card today for its anti-smoking policies — or lack of them. 

The grades are part of the American Lung Association's annual "State of Tobacco Control 2013" report released Wednesday morning.

The non-profit organization released a national report that tracks progress on anti-smoking laws at the federal and state law.

The association also released a California report that assigns a grade to each of the state's cities and counties on how well they are doing with tobacco control policies, including smoke-free outdoor environments, smoke-free housing and reducing the sale of tobacco products. (You can download the complete California report and related materials at stateoftobaccocontrol.org/state-grades/california/.)

In the East Bay, the cities receiving "A" grades were Dublin, Union City, Albany and Richmond. The unincorporated region of Contra Costa County also received an "A" grade.

It's the first year Dublin has received an "A" grade. It was one of 45 municipalities in California that improved its score from last year. It was also one of 17 municipalities in California to earn an "A." Twelve of those communities had "A" grades last year, too.

The cities of Fremont and Dublin were also applauded for passing comprehensive policies last year that protected their residents from the harmful effects of tobacco.

“Cities and counties in California have always led the way with strong tobacco control policies and that continues to this day,” said Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, Alameda County Health Officer. “It is great to see municipalities in the Bay Area passing innovative policies that protect people from second-hand smoke and keep tobacco products out of the hands of kids. The grades clearly show that the Bay Area is a leader in these efforts.”

On the flip side, the association gave 339 municipalities an "F" grade. That's 63 percent of the municipalities in California. That percentage is slightly lower than in previous years.

Among Calfornia's 10 largest cities, Oakland and San Francisco both received "B" grades. Los Angeles was awarded a "C" while Fresno and Bakersfield were given "F" grades.

In the East Bay, cities receiving "F" grades were Piedmont, Walnut Creek, Clayton, Danville, El Cerrito, Hercules, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley and Pittsburg.

In addition, San Ramon, San Pablo, Livermore, Newark and Pleasanton received "D" grades. 

Lung Association officials also noted California used to be a national leader in anti-smoking efforts, but now its efforts are lagging.

The state earned an A grade for smoke-free air policies. However, it 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.

Association officials said California has not increased its cigarette tax since 1999 and now ranks 33rd in the country at 87 cents per pack, compared to the national average of $1.48 per pack.

Association officials noted that although California receives $68 million in tobacco-related revenue annually, it spends a meager 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. 

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the failure of states to invest in policies and programs to reduce tobacco use has resulted in 3 million new young smokers in the United States. Every year in California, 34,400 kids start smoking while tobacco use causes an estimated 37,000 deaths annually and costs the state’s economy more than $18 billion in health care costs and lost productivity, the association reported.

Should Piedmont do more to discourage smoking? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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