Humboldt scores average in nationwide tobacco survey; Arcata improves grade with recent smoking ordinance

The cities of Arcata, Eureka and Blue Lake all received top marks in keeping their outdoor air smoke-free, but the county still has a ways to go to meet the standards of the American Lung Association.

The association's North Coast Advocacy Manager Pam Granger said Arcata was able to join Eureka and Blue Lake as a top scorer in one of the three graded categories -- smoke-free outdoor air -- by passing a new smoking ordinance.

"Arcata did make a change by strengthening their smoking policies," Granger said. "This brought them from a C grade to an A over the last year."

The ordinance -- passed by the Arcata City Council in June -- prohibits smoking from Seventh to 11th streets, J Street to U.S. Highway 101, in the Arcata Community Forest and the Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. The ordinance also expanded a no-smoking zone in front of businesses and apartment common areas -- with some exceptions -- from 20 feet to 30 feet.

Arcata Councilwoman Alex Stillman said she thought that it was "excellent that communities are being graded on taking action."

"I think for the overall health of our nation, we need to make it as healthy as possible, and not smoking is one way to do it," Stillman said.

While the three cities scored well in one category, they received the average C grade in the overall ranking. The report also shows that all seven cities in Humboldt County and the unincorportated county area surveyed in the report received an F for reducing sales of tobacco products. The cities of Ferndale, Fortuna, Rio Dell and Trinidad, along with the unincorportated area, received an F in all three categories.

Of all the graded cities, Eureka had the highest score, due to its B grade for the Smokefree Housing category.

"Eureka has done the most to protect where they live, with smoke-free common areas," Granger said. "The Eureka Housing Authority also decided to make all their units smoke free."

Humboldt State University may also become a smoke-free campus should California State University Chancellor Timothy White follow through with his goal to implement a systemwide ban. Public Affairs Director Michael Uhlenkamp said that the chancellor is "still looking at the timeline."

"It is the chancellor's intention to ban the use and sale of tobacco products," he said.

Under the current policy at HSU, smoking is allowed at 19 designated smoking areas, according to HSU spokesman Paul Mann.

"There are little signs and receptacles across campus," Mann said. "Apart from those areas, all smoking is prohibited."

A systemwide tobacco ban on all University of California campuses took effect on Jan. 1.

Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504 or whouston@times-standard.com. Follow him on Twitter @Will_S_Houston.

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