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Petaluma receives 'D' grade on tobacco control report card

The American Lung Association just released its 2010 Tobacco Control Report Card, which shows that Petaluma has some work to do in creating a healthier smoke-free city.

Each year, the American Lung Association issues a report card that assigns grades to the states and federal government based on tobacco control laws and regulations. The state's grades cover policies for smoke-free air, cigarette tax, tobacco control spending and smoking cessation. The report also grades various cities and counties, but for the first time, the American Lung Association has graded all 480 incorporated cities and towns and all 58 counties in California.

Petaluma City Council passed a ban on smoking in parks in 2009, which earned the city four points in the smoke-free outdoor air/recreation category of the American Lung Association's report card. The city also received two points in the category of smoke-free housing. The overall grade, however, was a D.

Sonoma County, received an overall grade of F, but there were some bright spots in the report. Sebastopol earned a B thanks to passing a strong second-hand smoke ordinance, which increased its smoke-free outdoor air and smoke-free housing grades from Ds to As. Rohnert Park also earned a B, while Petaluma's neighbor to the south, Novato, also scored a B.

The cities of Santa Rosa, Windsor and Healdsburg earned an overall D grade, while Cloverdale, Cotati and Sonoma earned Fs.

California received an A for smoke-free air policies, but it received an F for failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and control programs, another F for poor coverage of smoking cessation treatments and services, and a D for its low cigarette tax. Among the 50 states, California ranks 33rd for its .87 cent per pack tax, far below the national average of $1.45.

"California's tobacco tax is too low," said Jane Warner, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of California. "Cigarettes are too cheap and we are failing to adequately protect our children from becoming regular cigarette smokers."

In response, the American Lung Association is co-sponsoring the California Cancer Research Act, a ballot initiative that will raise the state's cigarette tax by $1 per pack and fund tobacco prevention and control programs and new cancer research.

To view the Tobacco Control Report Card in its entirety, visit www.lungusa.org/california.


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