Berkeley received pretty good grades from the American Lung Association on its efforts to prevent smoking — with a "B" overall. The State of California, however, failed to make the grade and landed an "F" for failing to invest in tobacco prevention programs and help Californians quit smoking.
The State of Tobacco Control report assigns grades in four areas — tobacco prevention and control spending, smokefree air, cigarette tax and cessation coverage. The grades are based on tobacco control laws and regulations in effect as of Jan. 1, 2012. Further information, grades and methodology can be found online at www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org.
Berkeley was one of 25 out of the 538 cities and counties graded by the American Lung Association to earn a "B." The city scored in the "A" range for two of the three categories — "Smokefree Outdoor Air" and "Reducing the Sale of Tobacco Products" — but was brought down by a "D" for "Smokefree Housing," scoring just two points for having "non smoking common areas" and zero points for all other subcategories.
Oakland and Alameda each received a "B" overall, while nearby Albany boasted an "A," excelling beyond Berkeley in the availability of smoke-free housing.
California's “F" comes even though the state was a leader in the movement to prevent smoking in the workplace, as well as in common indoor and outdoor areas.
"Once a national leader in tobacco control policies, California now earns mixed results," the report states, citing the state's low cigarette tax. California now ranks 33rd for its 87-cent per pack tax — far below the national average of $1.46.
The American Lung Association, along with the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association, is calling for support for a ballot initiative this year that would raise California's tabacco tax by $1 to fund anti-tobacco programs. According to act researchers, the California Cancer Research Act would save an estimated 104,500 Californians from a premature smoking-caused death.
How do you think Berkeley rates for its anti-smoking and prevention policies? How could the city improve? Do you think the state should raise the tobacco tax? Share your thoughts in the comments.