Colusa County gets F for smoking
The Arbuckle Parks and Recreation District very quietly made its parks smoke-free about 16 months ago — and that effort is the only positive notation in the recently released report by the American Lung Association for Colusa County.
The county and its two cities — Colusa and Williams — each received failing grades in the State of Tobacco Control 2013 scorecard.
The report judges legislative efforts to protect its residents from second-hand smoke in public areas, as well as in housing projects and with regard to sales of tobacco products.
Rebecca Root, the coordinator for the Colusa County Tobacco Education Program, said the county should not feel isolated.
"I don't know if it is necessarily just this county because the majority of counties have low grades," Root said.
Part of the reason the grades are typically low everywhere is because the scorecard is based on actual legislative policy, whether in a city's municipal code, the county ordinances or by special districts like Arbuckle Parks and Recreation.
"A lot of times there are people with voluntary programs, and that is not reflected in the grades," Root said.
That is not the case in Colusa County, at least to Root's knowledge.
However, she said her department is trying to coordinate with various agencies to at least get smoke-free park policies on the books.
She said surveys the agency has done seem to support the idea.
"We have done some public opinion polls in the communities, and we have gotten really positive responses because I think people are beginning to realize the dangers of second-hand smoke," Root said. "So if we are able to implement smoke-free policies, we are able to decrease exposure to second-hand smoke, especially to children."
Those surveys report that 80 percent of 267 park visitors in Arbuckle, Colusa and Williams indicated they support smoke-free parks.
Additionally, 50 percent of the smokers who responded to the poll said they would be in favor of creating a smoke-free park environment.
The State of Tobacco Control 2013 issued grades for all 482 cities and 58 counties in California on policies for smokefree outdoor environments, smokefree housing, and reducing sales of tobacco products.
It is released In conjunction with the national report.
The Arbuckle ordinance prohibits the use of all tobacco products within 50 feet of the edge of Arbuckle parks, including bleacher areas and access roads.
Anyone violating the policy can be charged with an infraction or misdemeanor.
According to the state Department of Public Health, more than 100 California communities have adopted smoke-free park policies, including Orland, which actually set aside smoking areas.
Arbuckle officials also noted the policy helps keep the parks cleaner.
In June 2011, more than 1,000 pieces of tobacco litter were picked up from three of Colusa County's most visited parks, the county Public Health Department reported.