Florida needs a stronger anti-smoking campaign

Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 17, 2005 at 11:25 p.m.
Despite the high economic and human costs of smoking, Florida has failed to enact strong tobacco-control policies to protect the health, and ultimately the lives, of its residents.
According to the American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control 2004 report issued last week, Florida received failing grades in tobacco-control spending and cigarette excise taxes.
Florida once had a nationally recognized youth tobacco-prevention program that caused a 50 percent reduction in smoking by middle school students and a 35 percent reduction in smoking by high school students.
Unfortunately, Florida invested only $1 million on tobacco prevention and cessation last year, which is approximately 2 percent of the minimum state spending level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We have seen these programs work when properly funded. They work to prevent our children from becoming addicted to tobacco and help adults quit.
Investing in tobacco prevention and cessation saves money and is a sound investment that will reduce our state's health care costs and benefit taxpayers. Most importantly, it saves lives.
We lose approximately 30,000 Floridians each year to tobacco-related diseases, but those deaths are preventable.
Immediate action by the Legislature is needed to protect the health and well-being of all Floridians.
Cheryl Pearson, North area executive director, American Lung Association of Florida, Jacksonville

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