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Sonoma County cities graded B to F on second-hand-smoke policies

Published: Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 6:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 21, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.

Rohnert Park, Sebastopol and unincorporated Sonoma County retained the best grades in the latest survey by the American Lung Association when it comes to restrictions on second-hand smoke.

Ratings in the 2012 report for cities and counties in California showed when it comes to local tobacco control policies, the two cities and county received a B overall.

On the other hand, Cloverdale, Cotati and Sonoma all earned overall grades of F for not updating their tobacco control policies since the mid-1990s.

Counties and municipalities are judged in three areas: smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free multi-unit housing and reduced tobacco sales.

The better grades have been earned in communities that instituted ordinances for smoke-free apartments and condominiums, intended to prevent carcinogenic smoke from wafting to neighboring units.

"It's a wave that is building momentum," said Pam Granger, North Coast advocacy manager for the Lung Association, who said more than two dozen communities in California have such restrictions.

Petaluma just passed an ordinance this month mandating smoke-free apartments, too late for the current report. But its grade will go from a D to B next year, Granger said.

In existing apartments, duplexes and condos -- any housing with at least one shared wall -- smoking will be prohibited beginning Dec. 16 in Petaluma.

New multi-family housing units must be smoke-free by July 16.

Overall in the region, San Rafael and Marin County received the highest grades with an overall A.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors was commended for allocating funds for a public awareness campaign directed by the Department of Health Services, Public Health Division.

But the Lung Association said California still has plenty of room for improvement, despite being the only state in the nation where municipalities legislate smoke-free multi-unit housing, a trend that began in Belmont in 2007.

California has the second lowest adult smoking rate in the nation -- 13.6 percent -- behind first-place Utah, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

But more than 34,000 minors start smoking each year in California, according to the Lung Association.

Once considered a national leader in tobacco control policies, advocates say California's efforts are now lagging.

California as a whole earned two F's and a D. It earned an A for its outdoor smoking policies.

California was faulted for its comparatively low cigarette tax, tobacco-prevention spending, and poor coverage of smoking cessation and treatment services.

You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or clark.mason@pressdemocrat.com

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