Santa Barbara Graded from A to F on Tobacco Policies

Collin Walker at Santa Barbara Vapor puffs away at his e-cigarette.

Paul Wellman

Collin Walker at Santa Barbara Vapor puffs away at his e-cigarette.

Two reports on smoking released last month came to the same conclusion: Smoking is bad. One emphasized the increase of e-cigarette use among high schoolers, a trend that is targeted in a new bill introduced in the California Senate to ban flavored tobacco products.

The “State of Tobacco Control,” released by the American Lung Association in California, measured the effectiveness of state and federal policies aiming to combat smoking in the state. California scored an A in “smoke-free air policies” and a B in all other categories. The County of Santa Barbara showed a range of results, with the cities of Guadalupe and Lompoc receiving Fs overall and Santa Barbara unincorporated territories scoring an A. The City of Santa Barbara sits right in the middle with a grade of C.

E-cigarette use among high schoolers increased 78 percent nationwide from 2017 to 2018, according to the American Lung Association report. The statistic, gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, comes just after the U.S. Surgeon General’s declaration that youth e-cigarette use is an “epidemic.” Additionally, the State of Tobacco Control reported an “all-time low” in cigarette smoking rates among both youth and adults.

The second report, released by the personal finance website “WalletHub,” took a different approach to smoking, gauging the financial costs of being a tobacco user in the United States. The report broke down costs by state and ranked them by overall cost per smoker, looking at not just the price of cigarettes but also income loss from illness and heath-care costs. California ranks 39th, at a cost of $2,208,472 per smoker, compared to the least costly state of Georgia, which cashed in at $1,396,882. It is important to note that these numbers do not account for anyone under the age of 18, nor did it examine e-cigarette use and costs.

These two studies both follow the introduction of California Senate Bill 38, which proposes a prohibition on the sale of flavored tobacco products. Under the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act (STAKE), the bill would, “prohibit a tobacco retailer from selling, offering for sale, or possessing with the intent to sell or offer for sale, a flavored tobacco product” to persons under 21. The bill is currently in process in the Senate Committee on Health. The bill includes no stipulations about e-cigarettes, which according to the Surgeon General are currently used by 3.6 million American youth.