Smokin' grades

Smokin' grades

Pasadena gets another ‘A’ in curbing tobacco use

By Nick Smith 01/23/2013

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A Pasadena law which went into effect Jan. 1 makes it illegal to smoke in any multifamily building, including all units, common areas, patios and balconies. Owners of such buildings are additionally required to post “No Smoking” signs in all common areas and inform potential lessees and renters of the ban in their tenant agreements.  

Combined with the city’s prohibition against the sale of tobacco products near schools and parks, and its restrictions on smoking on commercial sidewalks, it’s no wonder Pasadena is in the “top of its class” on the American Lung Association’s (ALA) State of Tobacco Control report card, receiving a grade of “A” for overall tobacco control.

Pasadena’s top grade also reflects California’s national performance.

“Cities and counties in California have always led the way with strong tobacco control policies, and we want to ensure that continues,” ALA California Governing Board Member Dr. Afif El-Hasan said in the report. California also received an “A” for its smoke-free air policies.

According to the same ALA report, however, California received a “D” grade for its low cigarette taxes and failing grades for “failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and control programs” and for “poor coverage of smoking cessation and treatment services.”
With 36,000 lives lost to tobacco-related illnesses and more than 34,000 kids taking up smoking each year in California, there’s still work to be done. According to Lindsey Freitas, policy manager for the ALA’s Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing, “The letter grading system gives us an idea of how well we’re doing in addressing these problems.”

Still, Pasadena remains a beacon of hope for those committed to the fight for clean air and the eradication of secondhand smoke from  public places.

“Pasadena is one of 17 top cities in the state,” said Freitas. “Pasadena’s been really exemplary in passing policies to protect its citizens.”
In fact, City Councilman Steve Madison and Pasadena Tobacco Control Program Project Director Statice Wilmore have been driving forces for such policies, including the smoke-free multi-unit housing ordinance adopted by the council in 2011.

“As a city-based public health department, it’s important to us [to] promote the physical, social and mental well-being of all who live, work, worship and play in Pasadena,” Wilmore wrote in an email to the Weekly.

While certain areas outlined by ALA’s report card are not currently covered by local ordinances, such as outdoor worksites, Wilmore is confident that Pasadena’s “A” grade speaks for a cleaner, healthier city. “We are pleased and honored to receive an ‘A’ this year — just like we did last year,” Wilmore stated. “Overall, Pasadena is making great strides in protecting the public’s health by addressing the No. 1 preventable cause of death and disease.”

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