Yuba-Sutter ranks an F on smoking
The two counties and their four cities received failing grades for their inability to ramp up tobacco control policies, according to a report released by the American Lung Association on Wednesday.
The association's State of Control report shelled out F's to Yuba-Sutter in every category of tobacco control, including smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free housing and reducing sales of tobacco products.
However, Yuba County spokesman Russ Brown said the grading system is flawed and doesn't reflect several years of improvements.
"They have no one coming around with a clipboard," he said. "They base it all on local ordinances."
Yuba County — much like Sutter County — uses tobacco education programs to reach out and inform the community on the hazards of smoking, Brown said, but many of these efforts aren't reflected in the lung association's final grade.
For instance, a local youth coalition stood in front of the Marysville City Council on Tuesday to ask about putting no-smoking signs up in parks, Brown said. These volunteer undertakings help to promote smoke-free environments, but aren't registered in the "State of Control" report.
California, which used to be a national leader in tobacco control policies, didn't do much better than Yuba-Sutter, either. According to the lung association, the state earned an A for smoke-free air policies, a D for low cigarette tax, an F for failing to sufficiently fund tobacco prevention and control programs, and an F for poor coverage of smoking cessation and treatment services.
The highest grade in the Northern California region was awarded to Davis, which received a B overall.
"I think there is a lot of work to be done with all of us," Brown said.
It may require a lot of work, but receiving an A is an achievable goal, said Lindsey Freitas, a spokeswoman for the American Lung Association.
Frietas said making the grade is a worthy cause.
"I think the community deserves it," she said.
Historically, Yuba-Sutter has always seen a higher number of smokers, county officials said. Economic challenges, such as high unemployment rates, have factored into the above average use of tobacco products.
In Sutter County alone, smoking is up compared to the rest of the state by 51⁄2 percent, said Anne Westlake, director of the tobacco control program in Sutter County. For this reason, county volunteers and officials have been working toward making improvements in several aspects of tobacco control, which includes creating smoke-free outdoor areas.
According to Freitas, the county has also done a lot of work to create policies that keep smokers away from business entrances.
But whether the county will be able to make the changes needed to prevent it from receiving an F in the future, Westlake said there's still a lot of work to do.
CONTACT Griffin Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4783. Find him on Facebook at /ADgriffinrogers or on Twitter at @ADgriffinrogers.