The American Lung Association released its annual State of Tobacco Control report, which assigns grades to cities and counties on key tobacco control policies and what they are doing to prevent people from smoking. Seven LA cities made the grade, but several didn't fare as well. Angie Crouch reports from Santa Monica for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Jan. 16, 2013.
Santa Monica earned accolades from the American Lung Association for the city’s strict tobacco control and in what has become a familiar score for the Golden State, California earned mostly D’s and F’s for its tobacco regulation.
Some 63 percent of California cities were slapped with failing grades for their lax smoking regulation, according to the State of Tobacco Control 2013.
Southland cities boasting A’s include Baldwin Park, Compton, Glendale, Huntington Park, Pasadena, Temecula and Santa Monica.
Santa Monica received top honors for becoming the first city in the nation to ban smoking by new tenants inside apartments and condos, and for prohibiting smoking in all public outdoor gathering spots.
Municipalities reprimanded by the report include Anaheim, Manhattan Beach, Monrovia, Santa Clarita, Irvine, Glendora and Norwalk.
Grades were based on three criteria: smokefree outdoor air, smokefree housing and reducing sales of tobacco products.
How well a city or county enforces its no-smoking laws near entryways, what percentage of multi-unit housing units are declared non-smoking and whether a municipality sells tobacco near schools, parks or in pharmacies are all factored in to the grading system.
While California used to lead the nation in anti-smoking policies, the Golden State is now lagging behind.
"Too many cities have done nothing at all," said Marcia Ramos, with the American Lung Association. "It’s quite surprising. We’re way below the bar on that."
California has fallen to 33rd place in the nation, behind Texas, Oklahoma and Montana, for its tobacco control policies, Ramos said.
The report wasn’t all bad, though. California scored an A for keeping most indoor areas smoke free.
"Remember years ago, people fought to make sure indoor environments were protected from second-hand smoke," Ramos said. "Today people see that as the norm. That’s not happening across the country."
California lawmakers received an F for not spending enough on tobacco prevention and control. California earned a D for not raising the cigarette tax when voters had a chance in June 2012.
An additional 87 cents is tacked on to each pack of cigarettes sold in California, compared to $1.48 nationally.
At least one SoCal smoker argued that the tax is already high enough.
"It’s just too expensive; $7 I pay for a pack. Too expensive," said Asaru Mushavu. "Tobacco companies make a lot, so why raise it?"'
In an effort to cut down on tobacco use, the American Lung Association plans to try again to get voters to approve a cigarette tax, citing studies that show making smoking more expensive is one of the best ways to get smokers to quit.