California a ‘Model’ for Antismoking Efforts
California has some of the "toughest" antitobacco laws in the country, making it a "role model for other governments," according to an American Lung Association study released yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reports. The ALA report "praised" California for allocating some revenue from its 87-cent tobacco excise tax -- among the highest in the nation -- for tobacco prevention efforts. Study co-author Cassandra Welch also noted that California enforces "the strongest indoor air laws in the country" to protect workers from secondhand smoke. The study gave the rest of the nation "mixed reviews" on antismoking laws, and urged states to pass "more stringent tobacco control laws." Welch added, "If the other 49 states had followed California, 300,000 Americans would not have died" from tobacco-related illnesses a over 10-year period.
California is one of six states that has not yet decided how to spend its share of the "landmark" 1998 national tobacco settlement. ALA's California branch hopes the state will allocate "at least" $165 million of its $468 million share of the settlement on antismoking efforts. While Gov. Gray Davis' (D) FY 2001-2002 budget proposal earmarks $20 million from the settlement for antitobacco programs, Paul Knepprath, advocacy director of the California ALA branch, said he hopes the Legislature will increase that figure. However, state Sen. Joe Dunn (D-Santa Ana) said the need for additional antismoking spending is "debatable," adding that Davis' proposed settlement dollars are "the icing on the cake" of the state's "already strong" antismoking program. Dunn said, "California is leaps and bounds ahead of any other state in tobacco control. Nobody can hold a candle to California." According to federal figures, 18.7% of California adults smoke, compared to 24.1% nationwide (Dorroh, Los Angeles Times, 2/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.