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Rancho Santa Margarita's Grade for Tobacco Control: Up In Smoke

See which South Orange County cities avoid the scathing indictment of the American Lung Association.

By City News Service

All but three cities in Orange County flunked in the eyes of the American Lung Association when it comes to tobacco-control policies, according to an annual report released by the organization on Wednesday.

Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods and Santa Ana received overall C grades on the report card issued by the anti-tobacco organization. Laguna Hills and Laguna Woods received A grades for reducing second-hand smoke outdoors, and Santa Ana received an A grade for reducing the sales of tobacco products, but overall they were judged mediocre.

Thirty-one other cities, including Rancho Santa Margarita, received overall grades of F. There were three primary categories—Smoke-Free Outdoor Air, Smoke-Free Housing, and Reducing Sales of Tobacco Products—with several sub-categories, and RSM received zero points out of a possible 12 in each sub-category, such as dining, entryways, public events, recreation areas, service areas, sidewalks and worksite.

“Despite making great strides in reducing smoking rates in America, there is still much work to be done here in Orange County,'' said Dr. Afif El-Hasan, a board member of the American Lung Association in California's governing board. “Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S. We must renew our commitment to stopping tobacco from robbing another generation of their health.”

The association is pushing cities to pass more laws reducing smoking, said Amanda Knitter of the association. The Buena Park City Council may consider an ordinance to ban smoking in recreational areas such as parks, a law the association favors, Knitter said.

The report did not specifically grade cities on e-cigarettes, but the association wants municipal leaders to consider them in the same way as regular cigarettes.

“Unfortunately, very little is known about the health effects of e-cigarettes, but it is important to note it is a tobacco product and thus should be regulated like one,” said Kimberly Amazeen, vice president of programs and advocacy for the association in California.

“It's kind of the Wild, Wild West of e-cigarette manufacturers taking a lesson out of Big Tobacco's playbook,” Amazeen said, referring to the use of celebrities to endorse the product as well as offering “candy flavored” e-cigarettes to appeal to youths.

California as a whole did poorly as well, despite receiving an A for smoke-free air; it received a D for cigarette tax, an F for tobacco prevention control/spending, and cessation coverage.

TELL US IN THE COMMENTS: Should the city make more of an effort to curtail smoking in public areas?

Shawn Gordon January 23, 2014 at 11:02 AM
I don't smoke, I hate smoke, but this nazi like intrusion in to peoples lives is insane. either outlaw cigarettes or don't. If a bar wants to allow smokers, then let them allow smokers. Just leave people the heck alone, this is a free country for goodness sake. I digress, what does a "D" on the tax mean? they aren't collecting enough? aren't using it right or what? It is basic economics that the more expensive something is, people will find a way to pay less and they've made the taxes so insanely high now, people go to great lengths to avoid them.

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