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7 San Diego County Cities Get Failing Grades In Tobacco Control

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7 San Diego County Cities Get Failing Grades In Tobacco Control
Most cities in San Diego County received grades of D or F on Wednesday from the American Lung Association in its State of Tobacco Control report for 2015.

Most cities in San Diego County received grades of D or F on Wednesday from the American Lung Association in its State of Tobacco Control report for 2015.

El Cajon and Solana Beach were the only local cities to receive higher grades. Each got a B from the Lung Association, which lauded them for tough rules against lighting up in public and licensing retailers of tobacco products.

"Despite improvements, more still needs to be done in San Diego and Imperial (counties) to better protect residents from the harmful effects of smoking," said Natalie Germuska, who chairs the American Lung Association's San Diego board. "We have a lot of work to do to safeguard public health from tobacco- related illnesses. Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S., and we must take the necessary steps to ensure a tobacco-free environment for our community."

Grades of F went to Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Oceanside, Poway, San Marcos, Santee and the unincorporated county area. Others received overall grades of D except for Vista, which got a C.

The report credited Coronado and Chula Vista for public smoking restrictions, and Vista was among the cities that was noted for tobacco retailer licensing.

The city of San Diego was given a D overall, but got a B for licensing businesses that sell tobacco.

The American Lung Association’s Debra Kelly said city of San Diego officials are "notoriously conservative."

"It’s notoriously slow in taking on new policies. But these policies really aren’t that new anymore," Kelly said. "I think that we deserve them, and we’re demanding them.”

Among the top 10 cities in California by population, only San Francisco and Oakland were given B grades overall.

Statewide, the Lung Association is pushing for a hike in the tobacco tax, which has not been increased since 1999. California's rate of 87 cents a pack ranks 33rd nationally.

Corrected: June 30, 2022 at 5:19 PM PDT
KPBS reporter Kenny Goldberg contributed to this report.