Health & Fitness

Merced is bad at tobacco policies, report says. Really bad.

Every Merced County city flunked an annual test for curbing tobacco use, according to a recent report by the American Lung Association.

Fifty-two percent of the 482 cities in California got a failing grade on the report, which awarded points in four areas: smoke free outdoor air, smoke free housing, reducing sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products and a “bonus points” section for emerging issues, such as restricting sale of flavored tobacco products.

California is among the top states in meeting the standards tracked by the association, but Merced and its surrounding towns tend to not score well.

All six cities in Merced County were given F grades with very few points scored on the report card, as were the cities in Madera County. Some Mariposa and Stanislaus areas did slightly better, but no town scored higher than a D, the report shows.

An overall D was awarded to the unincorporated area of Mariposa as well as Modesto, Turlock, Riverbank and Hughson.

In Merced County, only Atwater and Merced scored any points at all. Each city had two points for providing smoke-free outdoor recreational areas, and Merced got a third point for restrictions on retail stores that sell tobacco.

Chowchilla and Madera were shut out in every category.

And while the numbers may seem bleak, it should be noted that Palo Alto and Los Gatos improved their overall grade from a D to an A in just one year.

The report gathered data through Jan. 2. American Lung Association points out that California is in the top five nationwide for reducing tobacco use. However, the association pushes for improvement.

ALA says in the report that the study’s goal is to “increase public knowledge about local laws that protect residents from the deadly toll of tobacco and to encourage local leadership to take action where improvement is needed.”

“By passing a strong tobacco tax in 2016, continuing to support coverage of smoking cessation programs and other key quit tools and standing up to the billions spent in lobbying by Big Tobacco, the state remains a leading nationwide advocate for healthy lungs and clean air,” American Lung Association senior director of advocacy Lindsey Freitas said in a prepared statement.


▪ Atwater: F

▪ Dos Palos: F

▪ Gustine: F

▪ Livingston: F

▪ Los Banos: F

▪ Merced: F

▪ Unincorporated: F


▪ Chowchilla: F

▪ Madera: F

▪ Unincorporated: F


▪ Ceres: F

▪ Hughson: D

▪ Modesto: D

▪ Newman: F

▪ Oakdale: F

▪ Patterson: F

▪ Riverbank: D

▪ Turlock: D

▪ Waterford: F

▪ Unincorporated: F


▪ Unincorporated: D

The Fresno Bee contributed to this report.