2019 Tobacco Report gives Kern County ‘F’ grade for curbing tobacco use

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In the American Lung Association’s annual State of Tobacco Control Report, Kern County received an ‘F’ once again in 2019.

The failing grade targets elected officials who failed to protect residents from tobacco products and secondhand smoke.

Tobacco remains the country’s leading cause of preventable death and disease, killing nearly half a million people every year–and the report slams our state and local governments for not doing enough to curb that.

“Similar to years in the past, Bakersfield wasn’t able to adopt any policies in smoke-free outdoor areas, smoke-free housing, or reducing sales of tobacco products to minors,” said Lindsey Freitas, the senior director of tobacco advocacy at the American Lung Association. “It’s really time for Bakersfield to step up and take some action.”

According to the CDC, high school e-cigarette use has increased by 78 percent–or one million kids–over the past year.

“The real reason we see this jump is because of these flavored products that have hit the market…all types of things that are enticing to youth,” Freitas said.

Public Health also says from 2016 to 2017, 12 percent of Kern County tobacco retailers sold to people under the legal buying age of 21.

“It’s very important for parents to get engaged and have meaningful discussions with children–not with anger or resentment–but in a very focused way on the damage that vaping can cause to them,” said Dr. Ravi Patel, the medical director at the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center.

To improve, Freitas suggests, “(Kern County) can adopt smoke-free outdoor air policies to prohibit unwanted exposure to second-hand smoke where families hang out. They can adopt a smoke-free multi-housing unit policy–or even adopt a tobacco retail license, which is an effective tool to ensure youth don’t have access to these products.”

On Wednesday at City Council, Mayor Karen Goh proclaimed Vaping Awareness Week as February 11th through 17th.

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