Santa Monica Lookout
Santa Monica Earns an A for Anti-Smoking Efforts
By Jorge Casuso
January 17, 2013 -- Santa Monica was one of 17 municipalities in the state and one of seven in Southern California to earn an A from the American Lung Association for its efforts to stamp out smoking, according to a report released Wednesday.
The beachside city was given an A in all three categories graded by the association in its “State of Tobacco Control 2013 -- California Local Grades report” -- smoke-free housing, smoke-free outdoor air and reducing sales of tobacco products.
In the smoke-free housing category, Santa Monica leapt from a D last year to an A after the City Council gave final approval last October to a law that bans smoking in all apartment and condo units occupied after November 22, 2012.
“In the past year, the municipalities of Huntington Park, Dublin, San Rafael, Santa Monica and Marin County all have passed strong tobacco control ordinances and now receive an overall A grade,” the report said.
Nearly two-thirds of the state’s municipalities -- 339 -- earned failing grades in this year’s report card. Manhattan Beach, Anaheim, Glendora, Norwalk, Irvine, Monrovia and Santa Clarita were all signaled out for their failing grades.
According to association officials, California has fallen to 33rd in the nation for its tobacco policies and now trails Texas, Oklahoma and Montana.
California’s low tobacco tax -- 87 cents a pack compared to an average of $1.48 nationally -- earned state lawmakers an F.
California voters earned a D for failing to raise the cigarette tax when the measure was placed on the ballot last June. The state has not raised its tobacco tax since 1999.
Santa Monica earned a B last year for not doing more to ban smoking in apartment units and condominiums. The council debated the issue for more than a year before passing an ordinance last October.
But the beachside city has long banned smoking in public places. Santa Monica's battle to stamp out smoking began in the 1990s, but it really picked up steam in the past decade -- reaching the common areas of apartments and condos in 2009.
Along the way, smoking was stamped out on the beach, and in outdoor waiting areas -- such as ATMs, bus stops and movie lines -- and areas around public buildings that are within 20 feet of entrances, exits or windows that can open.
In a highly publicized vote, the City Council in 2006 expanded Santa Monica’s far-reaching smoking ban to include all outdoor dining areas, farmers markets and the Third Street Promenade.
In July 2010, the council strengthened second-hand smoking protection in multi-family residential buildings with a ban on smoking within a 25-foot radius of doors and windows. The new restriction covered private balconies, patios and other areas from which smoke can travel to other units and common areas.
But it wasn’t until last October that the council gave final approval to a law that bans smoking in all apartment and condo units. Under the law, building owners and condo associations must conduct a smoking survey of current occupants, who must designate their units either "smoking" or "non-smoking."
Current occupants can continue to smoke inside their units if they designate the units as "smoking," according to the law.
The City has continued its efforts to stamp out smoking, voting last December to ban smoking in all new hotels built in Santa Monica.
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