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Stanislaus County has ground to make up in tobacco prevention

POSTED January 22, 2013 10:31 p.m.

When it comes to deterring tobacco use the majority of Stanislaus County cities are failing to make the grade, according to a new report from the American Lung Association.

All but one Stanislaus County city received F grades for overall tobacco control in the “State of Tobacco Control 2013” report. Riverbank earned a C grade.

Turlock received an F grade in the category of Smokefree Outdoor Air and two Ds for Smokefree Housing and Reducing Sales of Tobacco Products.

The American Lung Association's "State of Tobacco Control" report tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the state and federal levels, and assigns grades based on tobacco control laws and regulations in effect as of Jan. 2. This is the 11th year the report has been issued by the American Lung Association. This year’s report took a particular focus on how states are investing funds from tobacco taxes into preventing and reducing tobacco use and found most states failed to use the funds effectively.

Tobacco settlement payments and taxes estimated at $25.7 billion were collected by state governments last year, but more than 40 states failed to invest half of those funds in prevention programs, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Additionally, the National Institute on Money in State Politics and the Center for Responsive Politics reported the tobacco industry as a whole donated more than $57 million to candidates seeking state and federal offices.

"We are faced with a deep-pocketed, ever-evolving tobacco industry that's determined to maintain its market share at the expense of our kids and current smokers," said Paul G. Billings, American Lung Association senior vice president for Advocacy and Education. "State and federal policymakers must battle a changing ‘Big Tobacco’ and step up to fund programs and enact policies proven to reduce tobacco use."

California received two Fs for Tobacco Prevention and Cessation, a D for Cigarette Tax, and an A for Smokefree Air. The American Lung Association estimates California has an adult smoking rate of 13.6 percent and 13.8 percent for high school students. The middle school smoking rate is estimated at 4.8 percent.

The American Lung Association estimates that smoking costs the American public almost $200 billion every year in healthcare costs and lost productivity and wages.

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