Santee's Not Alone With F Grade for Tobacco Control

The city was again the lowest scoring in the county in this year's American Lung Association's 2014 report on tobacco control policies.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo

Santee's not alone in being graded an "F" Wednesday in the American Lung Association's 2014 report on tobacco control policies. Most cities in San Diego County received poor grades.

Though other cities scored F's, Santee was the only city to score F's in each category of the report, which analyzes localities push to reduce tobacco use through policies restricting sales, providing smoke-free housing and limiting exposure to second-hand smoke. Santee was the only city in the county to score an F in the "Smokefree Outdoor Air" category. Santee has scored F's in each category since Santee Patch began reporting on it.

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). This was followed by a grassroots effort to ban smoking in Santee parks that has since died down.

The highest marks for overall tobacco control were given to El Cajon and Solana Beach, each of which received a B grade. They were rewarded for licensing tobacco retailers. Additionally, El Cajon was lauded for banning smoking in common areas of multi-family housing units. The City Council is also considering a ban the sale of electronic cigarettes.

The city of San Diego received a D.

Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Oceanside, Poway, San Marcos and Santee were each given F grades, as was the unincorporated county.

"We are proud of the work being done in San Diego and Imperial (counties) to protect residents from the harmful effects of tobacco," said Joe Kellejian, the former mayor of Solana Beach and a member of the Lung Association's San Diego Leadership Board.

"However, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S.," Kellejian said. "We must renew our commitment to stopping tobacco from robbing another generation of their health."

Cities were assigned points by a review of various tobacco-control policies, ranging from smoking restrictions at restaurants and public areas to smoke-free housing and restrictions on tobacco sales near schools and parks.

The association gave out A grades to 18 cities and counties in the state. More than 60 percent of cities in the state received an overall F grade.

Statewide, the report gave California an A grade for its smoke-free air policies, but a D for having a low cigarette tax, an F for insufficient funding of tobacco-prevention and control programs and an F for poor coverage of smoking treatment services.

"The policies reflected in this report demonstrate the leadership at the local level to ensure that all Californians breathe clean and healthy air," according to Marsha Ramos, chair of the Lung Association's California Governing Board. "No matter how big or small the city or county, local tobacco- control policies save lives. Tobacco use continues to take a tool on the lives of both adults and kids, so these grades represent real health consequences."

-City News Service

Fotis Tsimboukakis January 23, 2014 at 10:35 AM
And the Santee Mayor announced he was proud of the F. It stood for Freedom, according to him. In the city with the highest rate of health issues that can be attributed to smoking. Heart and Pulmonary. You judge his intelligence level. And think before you vote next time.
steve January 23, 2014 at 10:48 AM
Congratulations Santee! What is up is down! What is down is up! Tobacco alone is not the problem, It's the crap like rat poison, and a number of other contaminants that kill the body cells. I don't smoke habitually because I think it is a dirty, and nasty habit... Butt I am not going to tell others not to smoke in there house or car or yard or open area that is not harming others and if they do smoke and bother me! I will ask or insist they move to the trash can area to smoke. Or just leave the area. Butt not at the cost of my "Freedom". Because the next guy they move onto control will be the guy Bar b Queing in his back yard! That may be you! Don't be conned into believing your self righteousness is right! It's about controlling you and me! Thank you Mayor Vopel for representing us in this manner! Steve H.
Steven Bartholow (Editor) January 23, 2014 at 03:14 PM
Mayor is Proud of 'F for Smoking Freedom', Wears Cigar Tie and All Black- http://santee.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/mayor-wears-all-black-and-cigar-tie-to-honor-f-for-smoking-freedom
SD_Rider January 23, 2014 at 05:04 PM
Thanks Steven. Upon this proof, I will retract my statement. I see his point though, after seeing what they grade. "Smokefree Outdoor Air" Where do they test this? Outside a bar? "Smokefree Housing" Completely up to home/property owner. "Reducing Sales" If the demand is present, there will be sales. Why would any business reduce sales of something that is legal and turning a profit?
SD_Rider January 23, 2014 at 05:05 PM
I am still more concerned with the underage smokers that you see everyday in Santee.
Terry Rainey January 24, 2014 at 09:19 AM
I am so sick and tired of being harressed by non/ex smoking Nazi's. I don't want to quit. I like smoking, I'm old enough and have been around long enough to have heard and know the dangers. Leave me alone and worry about your own life and problems and stop trying to interfere with mine.
Fotis Tsimboukakis January 24, 2014 at 08:08 PM
Terry, nobody wants to force you to quit smoking, since it is legal, you enjoy it and you understand the risks. I enjoy a cigarette on a special occasion,whatever that may be, as well. I know it's bad,too,besides being the toughest addiction to break. But personal thoughts aside I want you to think of these couple of things/facts. 1:Most of us,whether we realize it or not, we often are someone's role model or someone looked upon as a form of a guide,specially for the younger ones. Our kids, neighbors, students etc. The more successful we are the more influence. And we inadvertently send the wrong message,sometimes. Specially to the younger ones. 2: I want you to think of all the cigarette butts, all over the place,from people smoking in public places, where there are no ashtrays, like some beaches, city streets,parks, where smoking is permitted or practiced. Everyones freedom stops where the next person's starts. Otherwise we have Anarchy. So don't look at it as Nazis limiting your freedom. They try to protect the others freedom to live and breath clean air, in public. Thanks!
Jim Kenihan January 24, 2014 at 09:24 PM
If they were REALLY concerned with "clean air", they would ban all transportation in the world. It's laughable when these "report cards" come out and everyone gets in a tizzy about how to control what everyone else does. Ban volcanoes, forest fires and all industry while you're at it.


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