Public Health Coalition Protests Weakening of Florida Tobacco Prevention Program
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Several of the largest public health organizations in the country are united in opposition to a Constitutional Revision Commission proposal that would strip language in the constitution that ensures tobacco settlement money is invested in proven tobacco prevention and cessation strategies developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The coalition includes the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), American Heart Association (AHA), American Lung Association (ALA) and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (TFK).
Proposal 94, which was introduced by Representative Jeannette Nunez, also would divert an unspecified portion of tobacco prevention money to cancer research. Florida’s Department of Public Health has projected that siphoning money from tobacco prevention for cancer research will increase personal health expenses, including Medicaid, in the state.
Comprehensive Statewide Tobacco Education (Article X, Section 27) calls for 15 percent of the tobacco settlement money to be dedicated to funding the state’s tobacco prevention and cessation program. It was passed in 2006 by Florida voters and has been integral in reducing consumption of tobacco products. Since its passage, the youth smoking rate has decreased 71 percent. Additionally, according to the Florida Department of Health, the state’s tobacco control program has saved the state $3.2 billion in health care costs.
The program’s remarkable success has been driven by strict adherence to CDC guidelines for effective tobacco control. This includes a specific and firm allocation of one-third of the budget dedicated to marketing to ensure there was adequate mass-reach interventions to be successful. The advertising campaign is at the heart of the program because the ads drive people to quit smoking and counteract tobacco advertising that attracts youth smokers.
“Providing a stable source of funding for the state’s tobacco prevention and education program has reinvigorated a critical program that had been left without proper funding for too long,” said Heather Youmans, Florida’s Senior Government Relations Director for ACS CAN. “Over the past decade, Tobacco Free Florida has helped more than 159,000 Floridians quit tobacco. And, while the program has made remarkable progress, nearly 30 percent of cancer deaths in the state are still attributable to smoking.”
“Every child that rejects Big Tobacco’s deadly grip becomes one less adult at risk for heart disease and stroke caused by tobacco use, said A.Wayne Rich, of Counsel with Broad and Cassel and a member of the AHA Board. “Tobacco Free Florida has proven to be highly effective and necessary. Redirecting funds toward anything other than proven prevention strategies robs children of the chance for a healthy future.”
“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in our nation and 15.5 percent of Florida residents currently smoke,” said Martha C. Bogdan, Executive Vice President of the American Lung Association, Southeast Region. “We know what works when it comes to preventing and reducing tobacco use. Florida’s tobacco prevention and control programs are highly effective and any diversion of funds away from the program will result in higher smoking rates. Tobacco Free Florida save lives and protect kids from a lifetime of addiction.”
“Florida has led the nation in reducing youth smoking thanks to its smart investment in proven tobacco prevention programs,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “It makes no sense – and runs contrary to the will of the voters – for Florida to cut funding for initiatives that are helping to prevent cancer and other deadly diseases and saving billions in tobacco-related health care costs. Florida’s progress is at risk unless policymakers reject the tobacco industry’s relentless efforts to roll back these gains. Rejecting Proposition 94 is a must so Florida can continue to reduce smoking and prevent cancer.”
ABOUT ACS CAN
ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit https://www.fightcancer.org/.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular disease, is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHAUSA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids fights to protect children and save lives from the No. 1 cause of preventable death: tobacco use. Its vision is a future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. Because tobacco has killed enough.
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