Southwest County Cities Score High on Anti-Smoking Survey

RIVERSIDE – Murrieta and Temecula earned high marks in a national anti-smoking survey of communities to determine which ones are doing the most to promote smoke-free environments, according to a report published today.

The American Lung Association’s ”State of Tobacco Control 2014” examined states’ and cities’ overall commitment to reducing tobacco use through policies restricting sales, providing smoke-free housing and limiting exposure to outdoor second-hand smoke. A-F grades were assigned in those three categories.

According to the report, out of Riverside County’s 28 cities, Murrieta and Temecula were the only two to score a ”B” or better. Temecula rated an ”A.”

The report showed that Temecula earned 11 out of a possible 12 points for policies to deter or outright prohibit tobacco use. Murrieta’s point total was 8.

Cities that earned ”F” grades were concentrated in the Coachella Valley or farther east — Blythe, Cathedral City, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage.

Blythe, Cathedral City and Indio received 0 points. The other four cities each received 1 point.

Statewide, the report gave California an A grade for its smoke-free air policies, but a D for having a low cigarette tax, an F for insufficient funding of tobacco-prevention and control programs and an F for poor coverage of smoking treatment services.

More than 60 percent of cities in the state received an overall F grade.

”The policies reflected in this report demonstrate the leadership at the local level to ensure that all Californians breathe clean and healthy air,” according to Marsha Ramos, chair of the Lung Association’s California Governing Board. ”No matter how big or small the city or county, local tobacco- control policies save lives. Tobacco use continues to take a tool on the lives of both adults and kids, so these grades represent real health consequences.”

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