Orland 'improves' on its Lung Association grade
Orland improved its grade in the annual American Lung Association report card, but the county as a whole and Willows still received falling grades.
However, Orland cannot celebrate too much because its overall grade only went from an F to a D.
Still, the city did earn a B for passing a smoke-free outdoor air policy last year that prohibits smoking within 20 feet of commercial and professional building doorways and limits smoking in public parks.
"It has certainly improved," said Shelly Brantley with the Lung Association's Chico office. "Orland has smoking regulations outdoors, reducing the exposure to second-hand smoke."
She said the Lung Association analyzes three categories: Reducing exposure to second-hand smoke; smoke-free housing and the sales of tobacco products.
Orland earned an overall three points in 2013 — largely for its passage of the outdoor smoking policy in February 2012.
That effort was led by high school students associated with Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) who lobbied the City Council to pass the ordinance.
After several months, the council finally approved it but did allow designated smoking areas in local parks after smokers protested for their rights.
The city ultimately earned 17 points in the smoke-free outdoor air category, but earned no points under the smoke-free mutli-housing category or for reducing the sale of tobacco products by requiring retailers to have a tobacco sales license.
Willows earned an "F" in all three categories and the unincorporated areas of Glenn County also earned an "F" across the board.
"It is great Orland passed their policies," Brantley said, although it was not an easy process.
She gave the city "kudos" for "listening to the SWAT kids," she said.
But more needs to be done.
The lung association advocates having nonsmoking units in apartment complexes, no smoking in common areas and other requirements related to multi-unit housing to protect nonsmokers and children from second-hand smoke.
In addition, it recommends communities adopt licensing requirements for tobacco retailers that would shut them down if they sold products to minors.
Sales of tobacco products near schools and parks should be banned or limited as well along with tobacco sales in pharmacies.
Sampling of tobacco products should also be banned or limited to exclude minors.
Orland City Manager Peter Carr said certainly the city bears responsibility for enforcing its own ordinances, but it has to balance that with the need to handle other criminal activity.
"I am sure the City Council is open to building a better environment for the city," Carr added, but it also wants to protect the rights of all people as smoking is still a legal activity.
He said enacting the doorway policy and smoke-free parks was a "significant" step for the city, and it is in its first year enforcing the ordinances and educating people about them.
"I find most people are happy to comply with the community's expectations once they understand what they are," he said. "It takes time to establish expectations in an effective and constructive way."
So far, Orland has zero problems at the parks since establishing limited areas where smoking is permitted, he said.
Orland also is not opposed to considering additional smoking regulations, Carr said, but it would be ideal if the housing market and community establish its own regulation.
If enough renters demand smoke-free housing, he said he is sure apartment owners would provide it. And the city would prefer that over regulation.
Carr also believes state law provides adequate regulation of tobacco sales to minors, but said it is a challenge to the city to find the resources to make it a priority to attend to those regulations.
In Willows, City Manager Steve Holsinger said his city has no smoking restrictions in city parks or on sidewalks, but staff does everything it can to protect the public around public buildings.
"We don't want to create legislative barriers," Holsinger said. "People have the right to exercise their freedoms."
If somebody is clearly outside and away from buildings, he does not think it is right for the city to interfere with their use of tobacco products, he said.
Holsinger said Willows also does a fair job of monitoring tobacco retailers for sales to minors under state law, and he does not think it needs a special rule for Willows or Glenn County.
Glenn County Health and Human Services Director Scott Gruendl said he had not seen the report and did not know what criteria it used to make the grades.
"I am really happy Orland was able to raise its grade," Gruendl said. "But there is more work to be done in the county to reduce tobacco sales and have smoke-free housing."
And the county hopes to work with the two cities to achieve that goal, he said.