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American Lung Association rates Central Coast cities on efforts to prevent tobacco use

Vaping e-cig generic

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The American Lung Association (ALA) released its 18th annual State of Tobacco Control 2020 report revealing how local cities and states rank on protecting their community from the harms of tobacco and efforts to prevent tobacco use.

Santa Barbara County, Lompoc and Guadalupe got an 'F'.

“This month, in February, we're gonna be looking at now 2019, how do we get that score from an F, let's get to an A,” said Guadalupe City Mayor, Ariston Julian.

The annual report grades all state and federal government policies proven to prevent tobacco use. The purpose of the report is to bring awareness to the laws that protect the community from tobacco and encourage local leadership to take action where it is needed.

Mayor Julian says the plan is to focus on parks and commercial areas.

"Where we could say no smoking on the sidewalks in the downtown area," he said.

Another idea is to discuss smoke free housing rules, and establish a permitting process with retailers.

“Where you have to let us know how much you're selling, who you're selling it to," Julian said.

In Santa Maria, some of these efforts are already underway.

“Back in November, the unanimous city council voted to ban the sale of flavored tobacco that's used in vaping," said city spokesman, Mark van de Kamp.

The city got an overall 'A' grade this year, up from 2019's 'D', and leaders say Santa Maria is on the right track.

“We received an 'A' grade in terms of reducing tobacco sales, and very good points for licensing of tobacco retailers," said Van de Kamp.

Van de Kamp says the city is working to strike a balance with what other community members want --smokers and tobacco retailers included.

“The additional regulations that we put in place over the last few years have been a reaction to the community coming to the city and asking us for specific things.”

Unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County like Orcutt, received an overall 'B'.

In San Luis Obispo County, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, and Pismo Beach-have been featured in the report as 'Cities and Counties on the Rise' for adopting local ordinances that address ALA policy focus categories.

In 2018, San Luis Obispo County statistics from the California Healthy Kids Survey indicated that 22% of 11th Grade students reported use of e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. According to the ALA report, 34 California communities passed policies restricting the sale of flavored tobacco in 2019 in an effort to combat youth vaping epidemic.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County

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Nathalie Vera


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