Florida Failing in Efforts to Reduce Tobacco Use in Latest State of Tobacco Control Report
American Lung Association’s annual ‘State of Tobacco Control’ report finds Florida has a lot of work to do to protect citizens, youth from the harms of tobacco use, secondhand smoke
(January 25, 2017) -
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The American Lung Association’s latest “State of Tobacco Control” report has found that in 2016 Florida failed to do enough to implement proven-effective policies that would save lives. The 15th annual report grades states and the federal government on policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and shows that most states and the federal government have earned poor grades.
“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in our nation, and 15.8 percent of Florida residents currently smoke,” said Martha C. Bogdan, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Southeast. “We know what works when it comes to preventing and reducing tobacco use. What we need is for Florida policymakers to implement the policies and programs called for in the ‘State of Tobacco Control’ that would save lives and protect kids from a lifetime of addiction.”
The “State of Tobacco Control” report documents the progress and failures of the states and the federal government to address tobacco use, and the report assigns grades based on whether federal and state laws protect Americans from the enormous health toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy. This year, the report has also added a new grade on efforts to increase the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21.
“Close to 95 percent of adult smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 21,” said Bogdan. “Increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 will significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save thousands of lives nationwide.”
Florida’s poor grades this year show that much more must be and should be done by our Governor and State Legislature to pass proven-effective policies that will reduce tobacco use and save lives. The American Lung Association in Florida is hopeful that the report will inspire Florida policymakers to make improvements for their state.
While failing in most areas, Florida earned praise for constitutionally protecting the allocation of tobacco settlement dollars to its tobacco control program in order to maintain a consistent investment in tobacco prevention and control. Additionally, Florida’s “B” in the Smokefree Air category would have been an “A” if it did not preempt local governments from passing stronger laws than the State and if bars were included in the smokefree restrictions. Florida is falling behind other states on the price of tobacco products ranking in the bottom 50 percent in the country. We urge our elected officials to substantially increase the costs of tobacco products (including electronic smoking devices). And we now know that raising the age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 is effective in reducing tobacco use. Florida could see a reduction by 12 percent by the time today’s teenagers were adults and smoking-related deaths will decrease by 10 percent. With over $8 billion dollars in health care costs due to smoking in our state alone, working to improve Florida’s tobacco policies will save lives and reduce the economic burden costs our state.
“It’s no secret how to reduce tobacco use in this country. ‘State of Tobacco Control’ looks at proven methods to save lives and prevent our children from becoming the next generation hooked on tobacco,” said Bogdan. “We must demand that Florida’s elected officials urgently act to implement these proven policies that will save lives and prevent tobacco-caused death and disease.”
For media interested in speaking about the “State of Tobacco Control” report, lung health, tobacco use and tobacco control policies, contact the American Lung Association at Phil.Koehler@LungSE.org or 904-309-8308 (office)/770-367-1501 (mobile). Florida’s report can be viewed and downloaded here: https://spaces.hightail.com/space/OAuQm
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.