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Berkeley Only Locality in State to Boost Anti-Tobacco Grade to 'A'

Berkeley is the only local government in California to boost its tobacco-control grade to an "A" in the latest annual ratings by the American Lung Association.

The American Lung Association's "State of Tobacco Control 2014: California Local Grades" assigns grades to all of the state's city and county governments for their efforts in opposing tobacco use.
The American Lung Association's "State of Tobacco Control 2014: California Local Grades" assigns grades to all of the state's city and county governments for their efforts in opposing tobacco use.

The City of Berkeley is the only local government in California to raise its grade to an "A" in the latest annual tobacco-control report from the American Lung Association.

Berkeley, which had a B grade the past two years, joins a somewhat elite club of only 18 city and county governments in the state awarded an A, compared to the F given to 330 local jurisdictions, nearly two-thirds of the local governments in California.

The lung association's "State of Tobacco Control 2014: California Local Grades" report assessed all 482 cities and 58 counties in the state.

"Berkeley is the only city this year to be added to the list of cities and counties that receive an overall A grade," the report said.

Berkeley's improvement was traced to the measure approved last year to ban smoking in multi-unit residential buildings.

"Berkeley passed a strong smokefree housing ordinance in 2013, raising their overall tobacco control grade to an A," according to a press release from the California chapter of the lung association. "Berkeley joins six municipalities in the region (Albany, Dublin, Union City, Richmond, Contra Costa County, and Santa Clara County) with an overall A grade."

The report examined and assigned grades in three categories: 1) Smokefree Outdoor Air, 2) Smokefree Housing, and 3) Reducing Sales of Tobacco Products. 

Berkeley received an A in all three categories. It had received a D in the Smokefree Housing category last year.

The report dealt with efforts by local governments, not private or non-profit groups. The county grades reflect county government performance in unincorporated areas. Alameda County received a C overall.

Of the five Bay Area cities receiving an A overall, four are in Alameda County: Albany, Berkeley, Dublin and Union City. 

California as a whole received an F grade overall.

"While other states have taken steps forward, progress in California, which was once on the forefront of tobacco control efforts, has stagnated," the report said. "Our state has made little to no headway in increasing its tobacco prevention and control funding, protecting its workers from loopholes in the smokefree workplace law, raising its cigarette tax or increasing cessation coverage."

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