Saratoga government officials have issued a press release calling the recent American Lung Association D rating of their tobacco policies "unrealistic."
City leaders lamented that the ALA's Jan. 16 annual report, titled “State of Tobacco Control 2013,” has given Saratoga such a poor grade and said the organization has graded the municipality with a D grade since 2009.
Of the 15 cities in Santa Clara County, 13 received either an F or a D grade in the report, city officials noted. Of the remaining cities in the county, only Campbell received a B.
City officials said in the release the 2012 Tobacco Free Coalition of Santa Clara County grade of A for Saratoga is a more accurate reflection of its tobacco use prevention efforts. The coalition also gave Saratoga an A in 2011.
"The city believes that the ALA in California’s scoring system is unrealistic because cities are not graded on their ability to address the unique tobacco-related issues that exist within their community or the effectiveness of their efforts to reduce tobacco use or exposure to secondhand smoke," city leaders stated in the press release.
"The city is fortunate that it has health-conscious residents and tobacco use has not been a significant problem in the Saratoga community," it added.
Saratoga has adopted policies to restrict the use of tobacco and continues to enforce these policies, according to the statement. "The city will continue to monitor its policies and procedures on tobacco use and will consider adopting new policies to address any new tobacco related problems that may arise in the community."
In the summer of 2012, Saratoga received an A grade from the coalition due to the following efforts, the release said:
- In October 2009, the City Council adopted a tobacco retailer ordinance that requires them to obtain a conditional-use permit and limits their density near each other, schools, and city parks.
- In September 2010, the city adopted a smoke-free recreational areas ordinance that prohibits the use of tobacco products in city parks and recreational areas.
- The city has also worked with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department to conduct tobacco decoy operations on a random sample of 20 percent of its tobacco retailers to ensure that they are not selling tobacco to minors in Saratoga. Businesses have been 100 percent compliant during recent decoy operations.
- The city also continues to increase its public awareness about its ban on smoking by erecting “no smoking” signs at all city parks and producing newsletter articles reminding the community about the ban of tobacco use in specific areas.
“The City of Saratoga and the Sheriff's Office care about the youth in our community,” said Santa Clara County sheriff's captain Ken Binder. “I am pleased that Saratoga businesses were in 100 percent compliance for all compliance checks and decoy operations conducted. Saratoga businesses have a history of doing the appropriate thing."
The commission's Community’s Health on Tobacco Report Card evaluates cities annually based on their effort toward complying with federal and state requirements, strength of policies that prevent tobacco sales to minors and enforcement of laws that prohibit tobacco sales to minors, city leaders said in the release.
Cities also receive additional points in the report card for community education efforts, stronger local tobacco control policies affecting the retail environment and for conducting additional tobacco prevention enforcement.