How we shape our communities in turn shapes us.

The NorCal 4 Health project covers the rural counties of Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, and Lake.  The mission is to encourage community planning, policy development and general plan updates that reduce tobacco influences and secondhand smoke exposure.

What you need to know

California’s rural areas have some of the highest rates of adult smoking prevalence as compared to their urban counterparts. California’s state average of 11.7% smoking rate is far below our rural county averages:

  • Del Norte – 20.3%
  • Humboldt – 16.9%
  • Mendocino – 15.9%
  • Lake County – 25.1%

There is a very real need for rural communities to adopt policies for the health of their residents.

The American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2019 report graded Del Norte, Humboldt, and Lake County an “F” due to the lack of local policies that address tobacco control.  The incorporated cities of Clearlake, Lakeport, Willits, Port Arena, Trinidad, Rio Dell, Ferndale, and Crescent City were given “D”’s and “F”’s.

While rural policy makers have been reluctant to adopt stand-alone tobacco control policies, federal and state support has been growing.

In 2017, the California State Office of Planning and Research published new guidelines calling on general plans to include elements of community health and the reduction of health disparities.

In 2019, the Office of the Surgeon General implemented an initiative, “Community Health and Economic Prosperity” or “CHEP”

In June 2020, the California State Office of Planning and Research updated their Environmental Justice Element guidelines to include improving the retail environment, smoke-free multi-unit housing, parks, public spaces, and the dangers of secondhand and thirdhand smoke.