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Berkeley Gets a "B" for Anti-Smoking Efforts

The American Lung Association report gives the state an "F" for its low cigarette tax and for failing to fund anti-smoking and prevention programs.

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.

Barbara Segal January 21, 2012 at 06:26 AM
As a Berkeley resident, I still am forced to breathe second-hand smoke when I walk in various shopping/business areas. If we are truly serious about living and breathing in a smoke-free and healthier environment, then there must be strict enforcement of the no smoking rules.
Carol Denney January 23, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I agree; the protections for citizens in supposedly smokefree commercial districts is non-existent, and the article neglects to mention the "D" Berkeley received from the American Lung Association for neglecting to protect tenants in multi-unit housing.
Ira Sharenow January 24, 2012 at 05:17 AM
For awhile the Berkeley council considered smokefree housing and seemed to be supportive (except that under the proposal tenants would still be exposed to marijuana smoke, I think), but the proposal apparently died in committee. Does anyone have any details on what happened to the proposal?
Gabriel Macy November 29, 2012 at 08:21 AM
It is great to see states engaging in efforts to curb smoking through various initiatives. People who are living in these states and supporting these initiatives also made this possible. A friend of mine in Berkeley bought himself alternative to smoking the real cigarette. He bought himself a nicotine patch and an e-cig starter kit. To him, this is his start of green living. He was glad that the online store he bought the e-cig starter kit gave him a discount. He said that it was a great start of ‘green living’. To him, when you smoke with e-cig, you are not only helping yourself, but the entire community as well. - http://www.e-cig-bargains.com

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