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March 24, 2023

Santa Cruz County shows leadership in annual Tobacco Control Grades

American Lung Association has released its annual State of Tobacco Control 2023 California Local Grades, and each of the five Santa Cruz County jurisdictions earned an overall grade of an A or B, ranking highly among the 482 incorporated cities and 58 counties in the state.

“These grades reflect true leadership on tobacco-related issues by our local policy makers,” said Rachel Kippen, co-chair of Santa Cruz County Tobacco Education Coalition. “A powerful example is the 2023 statewide ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products. Our local jurisdictions began passing flavor bans in 2018, showing there was public demand for such restrictions and paving the way for statewide action.”

The report grades jurisdictions on smokefree outdoor air, smokefree housing, restrictions on the sale of tobacco products and other tobacco-related metrics. The purpose is to increase public knowledge of local laws that help protect residents from the deadly toll of tobacco, and to encourage local leadership where improvement is needed. 

According to public health officials, there is still important work to be done.

“Tobacco continues to be the No. 1 cause of preventable death in California, and studies have associated tobacco use with a higher risk of complications from Covid-19,” said Tara Leonard of the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency. “As our local jurisdictions build more affordable housing, the importance of smokefree multi-unit housing comes into focus. Toxic tobacco product waste, like cigarette butts, is also a growing concern of local residents and environmental advocates.”

“This year’s grades are definitely worth celebrating,” Kippen added. “But keep in mind that fewer than 10% of California residents smoke. Yet 100% of us are forced to live with tobacco waste, secondhand smoke and other harmful impacts of Big Tobacco’s deadly products. I look forward to working with our local policy makers as they continue to lead this important public health fight.”

For more information, visit lung.org/research/sotc.

Staff Report
A staff member edited this provided article.


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