Solana Beach at top of tobacco control class

Solana Beach at top of tobacco control class
The American Lung Association gives a good grade to the city of Solana Beach regarding the way it controls tobacco. Courtesy photo

REGION — When it comes to tobacco control, Solana Beach makes the grade, but Del Mar does not, at least according to the American Lung Association.

Solana Beach earned eight out of a possible 12 points and an overall grade of B — one of only two in the county— in the organization’s 13th annual State of Tobacco Control Report, released Jan. 21.

“I’m proud of Solana Beach for having been the first city to prohibit smoking on our beaches and that we continue to prioritize health, clean air and protection of our youth from exposure to tobacco,” Mayor Lesa Heebner said.

Garnering four points, Del Mar was one of eight San Diego cities that received a D overall. With a population of less than 5,000 people, the city’s low mark can, to some extent, be attributed to its size.

For example, Del Mar received no score for failing to license businesses selling tobacco products. “I believe that we have one such business,” Councilman Don Mosier said.

“I’m not sure some suggested actions would have much impact in a small city like Del Mar, but I am certainly open to any additional council action that will improve the health of our citizens, and I appreciate the feedback from the American Lung Association,” he said.

The yearly report grades all 50 states and the federal government on four key tobacco control policies: tobacco control and prevention spending, smoke-free air, tobacco taxes and cessation coverage.

In conjunction with the national report, a local report issues grades for all 482 cities and 58 counties in California on three policies: smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free housing and reducing sales of tobacco products.

Del Mar and Solana Beach received A’s for their smoke-free outdoor air policies, which prohibit smoking in public areas and facilities, places of employment, city vehicles, outside dining areas and day care facilities, as well as at or near parks and beaches.

When it comes to smoke-free housing, all 19 San Diego jurisdictions received an F except El Cajon, which earned a C. The city, located in the southeast portion of the county, was ranked the highest in the report, with 10 points overall and a B. It takes 11 points to earn an A.

The biggest difference in scoring between Del Mar and Solana Beach came in the tobacco retailer licensing category. Del Mar received no points and an F, while Solana Beach’s four pointes earned the county’s second smallest city an A.

New to the report this year are bonus points for “emerging issues,” such as regulating the sale and use of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices.

“Del Mar earned an extra bonus point for prohibiting e-cigarette use wherever smoking is prohibited,” the Lung Association’s Debra Kelly said. “Solana Beach earned one bonus point for that, plus an extra bonus point requiring e-cigarette vendors to obtain a tobacco retail license.”

Bonus points aside, the 2015 scores for Del Mar and Solana Beach are identical to last year’s marks.

The report is designed to increase public awareness about policies that protect residents from the deadly effects of tobacco and to encourage local leaders to implement change if needed.

“There are many other lung irritants in the air than tobacco smoke, so I would look forward to reports that reflect efforts to improve air quality in the region,” Mosier said.

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