Health & Fitness

Modesto, area cities do not fare well in new American Lung Association report

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Gov. Jerry Brown has signed California's most significant new tobacco legislation in decades.

Stanislaus County doesn’t do a very good job of controlling the use of tobacco, the American Lung Association says.

In a report issued last week, the Lung Association graded states and communities in the United States in terms of “policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use”. Statewide, the report card was pretty good: California remains one of the leaders in the country in the area.

Locally, however, the grades were nothing that would get us a hug from Grandma. Overall, Modesto earned a D, as did Turlock, Riverbank and Hughson. Ceres, Newman, Oakdale, Patterson, Waterford and the unincorporated areas of Stanislaus County fared even worse, with each of those areas receiving an F.

We weren’t alone in the state: 52 percent of the 482 cities in California got a failing grade on the report, which awarded points in four areas: smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free housing, reducing sales of tobacco products and a “bonus points” section for emerging issues, such as restricting sale of flavored tobacco products.

One bright spot was in Riverbank, which earned an A in the area of reducing sales of tobacco products.

And while the numbers may seem bleak, it should be noted that Palo Alto and Los Gatos improved their overall grade from a D to an A in just one year.

The report gathered data through Jan. 2. American Lung Association points out that California is in the top five nationwide for reducing tobacco use. However, the association pushes for improvement.

“The tobacco industry continues to find creative ways to hook new generations of smokers by marketing and selling new products,” the ALA notes.

The ALA says in the report that the study’s goal is to “increase public knowledge about local laws that protect residents from the deadly toll of tobacco and to encourage local leadership to take action where improvement is needed.”

“By passing a strong tobacco tax in 2016, continuing to support coverage of smoking cessation programs and other key quit tools and standing up to the billions spent in lobbying by Big Tobacco, the state remains a leading nationwide advocate for healthy lungs and clean air,” American Lung Association senior director of advocacy Lindsey Freitas said in a prepared statement.

The Sacramento Bee contributed to this report.

Patty Guerra is managing editor at The Modesto Bee. She has held several writing and editing roles since starting at The Bee in 1999. She’s a graduate of Fresno State.