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Santee Gets Another 'F' in State of Tobacco Report

The city of Santee received another failing grade in an annual report released by the American Lung Association- the lowest scoring in the county, again.

The city of Santee received another failing grade in the annual State of Tobacco Control Report by the American Lung Association (ALA).

The report, released last week, rates policies to restrict smoking and sales of tobacco products and describes Santee as "falling far behind." Santee also received the worst failing grade in San Diego County .

Santee received an overall F grade, and was the only city in San Diego County to receive F’s in all three categories:

Tobacco Control Grade: F

Smoke-free Outdoor Air: F

Smoke-free Housing: F

Reducing Sales of Tobacco Products: F

The report highlights the fact that Santee is the only community in San Diego County that permits smoking in public parks.

According to the ALA, Santee's failing grade is comparable to most cities in California, a failing grade was the norm.

The report said that "California has fallen behind much of the nation in protecting residents from tobacco, receiving an F for failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and control programs, and a D for its low cigarette tax."

El Cajon scored highest in East County, receiving an overall B grade for its strong smoke-free outdoor air laws, smoke-free protections for apartment residents, and effective tobacco retail licensing program. The only other local city to receive a B was Solana Beach.

La Mesa and Lemon Grove received overall F grades, but both received D’s in the category of smoke-free outdoor air for making their parks and service areas smoke-free.

Santee Mayor Randy Voepel wrote a , defending the city's right to protect the freedom of smokers:

"They may see it as a grade of "F" from their perspective, as our being graded a failure; I see this grade of "F" from our perspective as being the highest grade for "FREEDOM" we could earn. In Santee we believe in life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our thinks long and hard before we restrict or take away one's freedom.

"If a smoker wants to blast their lungs out on cigarettes, that's their choice. If someone wants to light up in a park or public are, that's fine, if someone else complains, I expect the smoker to move away or put the thing out. We do allow smoking in public places, restaurants have the freedom to pick or choose having patio smoking, their FREEDOM of choice."

Cancer-fighting advocate , owner of and lead rallier for the , wrote a , urging that the report's findings be used proactively, and not as a political tool:

"It is a FACT that implemented tobacco prevention and control programs have had very positive impacts on state funded health care expenditures AND cancer survivability rates.

"Let’s not slam the report and dismiss it as an attack on personal freedom, let’s look at it as an opportunity to do what we love to do… make for everyone."

About four million people in California smoke, and tobacco-related illness remains the number one preventable cause of death in the state, according to the ALA.

In a press release, the ALA said that California could raise its failing grade by passing the California Cancer Research Act, which will be on the June ballot.

See the full report here.

What does this report mean to you? Do you smoke cigarettes? Do you know someone who does? Tell us in the comments.

Joe Spencer January 23, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Very intersting. I read this article and went back to read the letter referenced from the Mayor which I had not seen before. I think the city has a fabulous Mayor and City Council. I have met a couple of our council members personally and respect them greatly. I find it amazing to have a Mayor speak out the way Mr. Voepel did. I agree that sometimes the government has its hand in things more than it should. I admire the awareness of the Mayor and council to not add additional sales taxes. There is one thing I very much disagree with though. That the Mayor puts it on individuals to ask people to move away or put it out. If we lived in a world that simple we wouldnt need ANY laws now would we. What if there are two 13 year old children who walked up to the local park to play and someone is standing and smoking as they watch their child play. Are you suggesting that these children are supposed to address the adult? I was shocked to read that Santee is the ONLY community in San Diego County that allows smoking in public parks, especially given the fact that Santee is such a family friendly enviornment with many children utilizing out parks every day. I would put their health and well being ahead of any argument for freedom. Mayor Voepel has referred to Santee as the La Jolla of East County--but with chicken coops allowed (with restrictions) and smoking allowed at public parks I think it might be difficult for many to follow that comparison.
Motivated Santee Citizen January 23, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Why does it surprise you that things like this are "only allowed in Santee"? There are several negative issues that only occur in Santee why would this be any different? Also, why does it surprise you that nothing has been done to rectify the siuation from the failing grade the city receieved one year ago? Nothing is ever done to resolve any of the several negative issues that impact Santee, expect for the all important chicken coop issue of course. By the way; I was getting a pizza at Costco the other day and a woman was standing there smoking with no regard for anyone else waiting there having to breathe her second hand smoke. This example shows that it won't work expecting people to do the right thing. People are self-centered and could care a less about your health if they don't even care about their own.
Joe January 24, 2012 at 01:37 AM
C'mon Santee! Aside from people's right not to be exposed to second-hand smoke (while smoking is not a legally protected right), cigarette butts are consistently the #1 collected item in school, city, beach and river cleanups. 360 billion are dropped/flicked out into the environment in the U.S. every year. And they're really toxic. Just one cigarette butt kills aquatic life. They meet the scientific definition of toxic waste. This doesn't seem to be a case of infringing on personal liberties. It seems to be a cut-and-dry case of reacting to hard data. For more info: www.toxicbutts.com
Santee Mike January 24, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Santee finally eradicated under age drinking with Casa Picante/Nueva gone and Wagon Wheel/Mulvaneys gone. The cops are too busy giving 44 mph speeding tickets in a 35 to enforce smoking rules. Voepel has said he's aligned with the Tea Party which is less government regulation. God forbid Lakeside was its on city, people ride quads to Vons and throw beer cans out their Broncos...
Shannon January 24, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Our Mayor's response it not only uneducated, it's just plain sad. Freedom? Freedom to do what, pollute your lungs and those of others around you?! I can see how he feels stongly about not limiting a persons "freedom" in their own home, but parks and dining are a whole other issue. That affects my freedom to have clean air, and the freedom of my kids to be able to play and enjoy the fresh air. Wake up, get educated, and work to make Santee something we can be proud of.
James Jones January 24, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Do we really need another regulation? Does government really have to step in? Are we so afraid of each other or anti-social that we can't ask someone to put out a cigarette? Or move a few feet away? As far as cigarette butts, there are already littering laws. Just another incremental step towards "The Government is your Mommy."
Jessica Z January 25, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I go to Mast park and there are at least 3-4 people smoking around the playground! I HATE IT!!! Kids can't play without choking on cigar and cigarette smoke. There is something wrong with this.
James Jones January 26, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Choking? Really?
Motivated Santee Citizen January 30, 2012 at 05:09 AM
James Jones, Self governing will never work in Santee with the Santee do as you please with no regard for anyone else mentality.
joan sullivan January 30, 2012 at 07:55 AM
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." C. S Lewis Thank you, Randy.
joan sullivan January 30, 2012 at 08:36 AM
Sounds like some of you folks would be a lot happier if you moved to Loma Linda and joined your brethren. I'm sure Loma Linda got an "A". http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-loma-linda-mcdonalds-20120122,0,1710965,full.story Is this the kind of city council you want in Santee?
Joe Spencer January 30, 2012 at 08:56 AM
Joan....I respect your opinion, though I disagree with it. I think the Loma Linda comparison is quite a stretch. Are you telling me that those of us who are concerned as parents for our childrens exposure to second hand smoke---should just pack up and leave because we are over the top? Are you telling me that you just dont care if kids are exposed to cigarette smoking at the parks they play at? You do realize Santee is the ONLY city in this county that allows smoking in parks still.
Joe Spencer January 30, 2012 at 08:58 AM
"When non-smokers are exposed to SHS it is called involuntary smoking or passive smoking. Non-smokers who breathe in SHS take in nicotine and other toxic chemicals just like smokers do. The more SHS you are exposed to, the higher the level of these harmful chemicals in your body." American Cancer Society
joan sullivan January 30, 2012 at 10:35 AM
"You can fool some of the people all of the time ... " A whopping majority are in California. The two biggest scams of our time are Global Warming and Second Hand Smoke.
Motivated Santee Citizen January 30, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Joe, There is no talking sense to smokers it would appear. Also, why is it that Santee is the "only" city that allows things that are not allowed in all other cities? It would seem that something is not right in "The La Jolla Of East County".
Motivated Santee Citizen January 30, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Yes! I love it. I would bet that the property values in Loma Linda are about as high as they can be for a similiar area. That area I would guess is in high demand to live in. I would love to see the same strict rules applied to Santee.
Motivated Santee Citizen January 30, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Cops giving tickets out? I have not seen any traffic speed enforcement in Santee for 6 months or more. 44 mph in a 40 is 9 mph "over" the limit. The speed limit is the limit. I wish they would do much, much more speed enforcement in Santee and put up red light cameras. I also believe anything more than 5 mph over the limit should be ticketed.
Motivated Santee Citizen January 30, 2012 at 10:24 PM
There is too much freedom in Santee and as such Santee is the place it has become. When given the chance to self govern themselves, most people will take the opportunity to abuse the right for their own self serving gratification.
Joe Spencer January 31, 2012 at 03:20 AM
@Motivated.....I can attest to the fact that many mornings I see speed enforcement on Mission Gorge as I drive my daughter to school. The motorcycle officer sits in a driveway along the street. Also..at random times they do appear in the morning as a team in front of Rio Seco. So they are doing it. I think much of it is budget related unfortunately.
Joe Spencer January 31, 2012 at 03:23 AM
I don't know if I would go so far as to call the remarks "uneducated"....but I certainly queston that response from a city official. I agree ith your position on freedom in the home....but not in regards to parks and dining as it relates to smoking
Motivated Santee Citizen January 31, 2012 at 06:22 AM
Thanks Joe for the update on the traffic speed enforcement. I have heard that it occurs and did not question the validity of that fact. I just rarely see it for such long periods of time and that coupled with the fact that people in Santee drive so fast as though their is no enforcment makes me wonder sometimes what our city leaders are thinking. I don't know if you got me confused with someone else that posts on here, but I never called anyone "uneducated". Words like that would counter productive in an ongoing debate.
Joe Spencer January 31, 2012 at 07:48 AM
@Motivated....the "uneducated" statement in a seperate reply you are referring to was not directed at you...it was directed to the original post above us--Shannon.
Motivated Santee Citizen January 31, 2012 at 08:17 AM
I didn't think so Joe. Just making sure. Thanks for clarifying. I don't talk to people like that as it only makes things worse and puts people that already don't want to talk or get along on the defensive.

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