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40-thousand people die a year in Calif. alone from tobacco-related illnesses. And that’s cost the state more than 18-billion dollars in healthcare and loss of productivity. Two reports out today explain what states are doing to curb tobacco use. Lindsey Freitas, with the American Lung Association in California, says the state has made progress this past year – raising the legal age to buy smokes from 18 to 21, regulating e-cigarettes just like other tobacco products, and passing a ballot measure (Proposition 56) to hike the tobacco tax by two-dollars a pack.

Cut 88345 :14 "All of those things resulted in our grades going up this year, and we actually were one of the states that showed the most improvement, year over year, because of a lot of the effort that we were able to do last year. We’ve kind of regained our place as a leader in tobacco control once again."

Tag: Freitas says these efforts largely enjoyed bipartisan support, but faced opposition from Big Tobacco. California’s smoking rate still hovers around 12 percent – and while that might seem like a small number, it represents roughly the population of the state of Oregon.

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Second Cut: Along with the national report, a companion report from the California American Lung Association chapter grades cities and counties on their tobacco-control initiatives. Freitas says more than 20 received an overall "A" average – but the list doesn’t include any of the 10 largest cities. San Francisco scored a "B," Los Angeles got a "C" – and Anaheim got an “F.”

Cut 89345 :13 "The important thing to note is that these are not easy policies to adopt, even though we do have strong support. (:06) They’re still challenging to adopt in some of these bigger cities – and so, we see the progress there going a little slower."

Tag: An estimated 16-thousand California kids a year start smoking. Freitas says her group is working to stem kids’ access to e-cigs, and to curb tobacco companies’ targeting of minorities in their marketing.

A new doc’s been brought in by Mendocino County Health Centers to treat those with HIV and AIDS. Dr. David Gorchoff is a family medicine doctor with a specialized certification to treat HIV/AIDS. The doc will be seeing patients at Lakeview Health Center in Lakeport. He takes over for another doctor who recently left for another position. Gorchoff has been working on the AIDS epidemic since when it first became known, he was also the Medical Director a couple other clinics over the years.

There may soon be more low income housing in Ukiah thanks to more than 2.5 million dollars for new projects. The City Council says yes to move $2.7M from the city’s old redevelopment agency. The city had borrowed several million dollars back in 2011 by selling bonds thru the redevelopment agency. The money was to only be used on low-income housing projects. A staff report for the council last week said if the money is released they can decide where it should be used, but according to the city manager, it has to go to low-income housing, saying that will help improve the tight market in Ukiah.

Another month for the state of emergency in Sonoma County. The Board of Supervisors extended the emergency declaration yesterday for 30 more days after heavy rain pounded the region for weeks. The declaration releases state disaster relief funds for damage caused by the storms. The county noted, quote, “conditions of extreme peril” were persisting due to continued heavy rainfall which caused widespread flooding, closing and damaging roadways and triggering mudslides and causing power outages for thousands. The Gov. Jerry Brown also declared a statewide emergency for almost all of California’s counties because of the storms. The declaration directs the state Office of Emergency Services to help counties based on damage assessments from local governments.

A businessman and his son-in-law in Santa Rosa are suing the Press Democrat newspaper for libel. Bill Gallaher, a banker and developer and Scott Flater say they were defamed in several stories about campaign spending for the City Council election last year. The pair say their reputations have been harmed by four stories that came out in October and November regarding unprecedented spending in a local election. The story showed there was $195,000 in independent expenditures reported by Flater who was supporting three council candidates. But the two say the stories falsely suggested Gallaher gave money to Flater, which Gallaher says is untrue.

A homeless man in Fort Bragg has been taken to jail in connection to several windows being broken in city buildings the last several days. Fort Bragg Police say Joseph Little has been charged with a probation violation, vandalism and a hate crime because one of the buildings was a church. Police say they got a call Monday night about a disturbance and found Little who they’d already been looking for for a string of vandalisms, including at the church, a liquor store and the city’s aquatic center. He confessed, police say, to the church vandalism, because it was across from a school; the liquor store, because they sell porn; and a homeless services center because a friend wasn’t getting proper treatment there.

If you see some low flying Helicopters, no fear, it’s PG&E checking for drought battered trees. The choppers will buzz around Sonoma and Mendocino counties today and tomorrow. There will be foresters aboard looking for trees that are vulnerable of falling into power lines, which can bring outages and start wildfires. The helicopters will be just 200 to 300 feet above the ground between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Flights in Mendocino County will be in Boonville and Philo as well as the towns of Ingram, Yorkville, Soda Springs, Hendy Grove, Reilly Heights, Navarro and Comptche.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors says no to the Lake County’s Sheriff’s request to hire outside legal counsel for a lawsuit filed by the Lake County Correctional Officers Association. Now Sheriff Martin says he’s going to take legal action to force the county to hire the lawyer. The board wants Martin to use the County Counsel’s Office. The Correctional Officers are also suing the county. Martin says using the county attorney could be a conflict of interest since the lawsuit and an agreement with the association at the heart of the lawsuit, was partially drafted by the County Counsel’s Office. The lawsuit was filed regarding a time before Martin was Sheriff. But it says Martin breached the contract drawn when then sheriff Frank Rivero was running the department regarding Correctional Officers carrying guns.

A committee’s being formed in Clearlake on how money will be spent that’s raised from the recently passed Measure V for road work. The council’s meeting this Thursday and will appoint the Measure V Oversight Committee. The council members get to choose their own representative for the panel which will manage the tax proceeds that are being raised only for road repairs and improvements. The tax is expected to bring in more than $1.5M a year.

A car plows into a home in Clearlake injuring a person inside. Police say firefighters went to two calls yesterday morning, the first was a two car crash, the second a car into a house, the two accidents apparently were just the one into the home. Police say a man in a white 1993 BMW M3 south on Old Highway 53 crashed into the home then left the scene. The man in the home apparently posting on social media, the person injured was his mother in law. She’s been released from the hospital. The Beemer also apparently hit a van near the house. The resident also said, cops chasing another car last May crashed into his garage.

Governor Jerry Brown delivers his State of the State calling out the new president, not by name, but saying the state will continue to pursue climate change work and other progressive policies, saying the state is never turning back. Brown got a standing ovation at the end of his fiery speech yesterday. Brown spoke to the size of California and its economic power, saying when the state does well, America does well, and if Calif. hurts, America hurts. The governor also warned the future of Calif.’s economy was now uncertain because of the new president. Some legislators say Brown’s speech didn’t specify policy proposals besides staying with what’s working already.

A zoo in New York’s offering something new for your Valentine… cockroaches. The Bronx Zoo is giving folks a chance to name a Madagascar hissing cockroach in honor of your Valentine. The name a roach program’s been going on since 2011 as a way to raise money. So for just 10 bucks, you get an emailed certificate showing one of the insects has been named for you. They’re also sending chocolates and a Madagascar cockroach stuffed toy for more money. The museum says no worries, there’s enough roaches to name, they’ve got thousands on exhibit. The money goes to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

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