The American Lung Association in California again gave the city of Santee an F rating for its tobacco policies, with an overall score of 0 out of 12 possible points.
The annual report, which was released Wednesday, issues grades for all cities and counties in California on local tobacco control policies, including those for smoke-free outdoor environments, smoke-free housing, and reducing sales of tobacco products.
The report gained notoriety in Santee when in 2011 Mayor Randy Veopel wrote a op-ed defending the low grade as a sign of freedom in the city (Santee Mayor Explains City's 'F for Freedom' Tobacco Grade).
He updated his defense in 2012, citing other challenges to the city that are more important.
"Santee has many larger challenges facing our City: Power Plants, Mobile Home Rent Control, manyPublic Works projects, Food Bank, California taking our tax base, keeping the going, keeping a balanced budget against the odds, fighting the gangs that surround us, on and on. Second hand smoke, in open air, 20 feet away from children issues are WAY down the 'problem' food chain for me."
Last year's report spurned a grassroots effort by Joe Spencer to ban smoking in Santee parks that climaxed in a public meeting on the subject at West Hills High and has since died down.
Santee received an overall F grade, and was again the only city in San Diego County to receive F’s in all three categories:
Smoke-free Outdoor Air: F
Smoke-free Housing: F
Reducing Sales of Tobacco Products: F
Santee's neighboring city, El Cajon, received the highest grade in the county, a B, for its strong smoke-free outdoor air laws, smoke-free protections for apartment residents, and effective tobacco retail licensing program.
According to the ALA, Santee's grade is comparable to most cities in California, a failing grade was the norm.
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.
“Safeguarding our communities from the negative consequences of tobacco is critical,” said American Lung Association in California—San Diego Chairman Paul Manasjan. “These grades represent real health consequences. We know how to win the fight against tobacco, but it requires strong leadership and action by elected officials at all levels.”
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.”
To view the complete California report, including grades for cities in San Diego County, visit www.lung.org/california or click on the PDF attached to this article.
- Dear Randy: 'F for Smoking Freedom' Update
- Letter to the Council: Smoking in Santee's Parks
- Feel Free To Smoke In Santee Parks... But Get Your Fortune Told Elsewhere
- Santee's Failing Tobacco Grade: Response to Mayor's Letter