A health report recently released by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health revealed interesting statistics about the amount of cigarette smokers of cities and communities of the LA County area.
The Santa Clarita Valley was ranked #34 out 127 communities, with 10.9% (13,600) of citizens being regular cigarette smokers. Lancaster and Quartz Hill had the highest smoking prevalence at nearly 22%. San Marino was ranked lowest with only 5.3% of its community smoking cigarettes and Malibu was ranked second lowest with a smoking prevalence of 5.8%.
“I am not surprised that the rate is low here,” said Linda Storli, full time teacher at Canyon High and anti-smoking advocate, “though it could be lower.”
Storli has worked at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, William S. Hart High, and with Santa Clarita Juvenile Court, to produce smoking cessation clinics to try and get members of our valley to kick the habit.
She has worked with Deborah Levy, Director of the Psychology Research Laboratory at Mclean Hospital in Massachusetts, to not only make smoking illegal in public places but also create stiffer laws for people that sell cigarettes to minors.
Though Los Angeles County itself has among the lowest smoking rates of any metropolitan area in the U.S. with the current smoking prevalence at 14%, the health report states that the smoking rate has remained fairly steady since 2002.
The health report recommends that policymakers put effort into policies that reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, reduce youth access to tobacco products, and promote cessation and prevent smoking initiation.
“More enforcement is needed on selling to kids, and adults have to be more aware that children shouldn’t be smoking.” said Storli, though she believes stricter laws are near impossible, “Enforcement is not as easy when fees are involved.”
Jonathan E. Feilding, Director and Health Officer of The Department of Public Health, mentioned in the report, “Among Los Angeles County teens in grades 9 through 12, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey demonstrated a decline in smoking rates from 26% in 1997 to 12% in 2005.”
“We are in better shape than most, I just would like for there to be a way to keep kids from starting.” said Storli.
For additional information on this public health report and to learn about LA County’s tobacco control and prevention programs, click here.