Auburn gets failing grade in second-hand smoke report

By: Bruce Warren, Journal Staff Writer
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The City of Auburn gets an “F” from the American Lung Association of California in regard to policies protecting residents from second-hand smoke. The local report card was presented Tuesday during a news conference in Sacramento. Besides Auburn, Colfax, Lincoln, Loomis, Rocklin and the unincorporated area of Placer County all received an “F” grade. “Although cities in Placer County have made great progress in protecting the health of local residents from second-hand smoke, there is still policy work to be done,” said Jim Howard, a board member of the American Lung Association of California. The American Lung Association gathered information from each county’s code and each city’s municipal code in regards to smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free housing and reducing the sale of tobacco products. According to Justin Garrett, policy coordinator with the Center for the American Lung Association of California, the City of Auburn had no laws on the books to make bus stops, parks or outdoor dining smoke free. “If the city municipal code restricted smoking in one of these areas, then they would get points,” Garrett said. “Auburn had zero points for all the categories.” One Auburn resident, Wade Johnson, appreciates the state law that prohibits smoking in most public places, which includes Auburn area restaurants. The lung association was not grading those areas, but rather laws on the books were the determining factor. “I’ve never seen anybody smoking inside Depot Bay Coffee Co.,” Johnson said Tuesday. “I went to the Club car last night and I didn’t see anybody smoking there.” Mayor Mike Holmes said the city “adheres to state law inside buildings. City Hall is smoke free as are (city) vehicles.” The city has been seeking to get a grant from the Placer County Air Pollution Control District in order to make some improvements, Holmes said. “Maybe we could make a public education effort,” Holmes said. He added that it would be conditional upon whether the city could obtain a grant. Directors of the Auburn Recreation District had discussed the possibility of making one of its parks smoke-free, but enforcement issues held them up. Dog walkers at the Ashley Memorial Dog Park off of Auburn Ravine Road complained of excessive cigarette smoke at the park during one meeting near the end of 2008. ARD Director Gordon Ainsleigh said that dog owners have been complaining about the dog walkers who smoke. “A polite smoker does not smoke upwind from a non-smoker and we’ve had complaints from the non-smokers,” Ainsleigh said Tuesday. “But there are smokers who do that.” Ainsleigh ran on a platform that advocated health. “We certainly need to do something about the tobacco issue,” Ainsleigh said. “We shouldn’t allow minors to make stupid decisions in regard to tobacco.” When it comes to second-hand smoke, Ainsleigh commented on the real danger. “The smoke that is really damaging is the side-stream smoke that comes off the side of the cigarette,” Ainsleigh said. “It burns at low temperatures so it does not combust, and it’s not filtered.” Despite current local conditions, he said it’s much improved from the days when he used to run along the side of highway and hold his breath when passing vehicles emitted “noxious fumes,” he said. The Journal’s Bruce Warren can be reached at, or comment online at