Florida has received poor grades for its tobacco control policies, according to a new report by the American Lung Association. The report, which evaluates state and federal actions to prevent and reduce tobacco use, shows that Florida needs to do more to protect its residents from the harms of tobacco and nicotine products.
The report, titled “State of Tobacco Control 2024”, grades states and the District of Columbia in five areas that have been proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives. These areas are funding for state tobacco prevention programs, strength of smokefree workplace laws, level of state tobacco taxes, coverage and access to services to quit tobacco, and ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products.
In the 2024 report, Florida received the following grades:
- Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
- Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade C
- Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
- Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade C
- Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade F
The report says that Florida is failing to invest enough in tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which are proven to reduce tobacco use, especially among youth. Florida also has one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the nation, which makes tobacco products more affordable and accessible to young people. Moreover, Florida has no state law or regulation to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products, which are appealing and addictive to youth and can lead to lifelong tobacco use.
Florida faces a high burden of tobacco-related death and disease
The report warns that Florida is facing a high burden of tobacco-related death and disease, which costs the state billions of dollars in health care expenses and lost productivity. According to the report, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Florida and across the country, claiming the lives of 32,300 state residents each year.
The report also highlights the growing threat of e-cigarettes, which are the most popular tobacco product among youth in Florida and nationwide. The report says that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and harmful to the developing brain, and can expose users to harmful chemicals and metals. The report cites the latest data from the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which shows that 27.5% of high school students and 10.5% of middle school students in Florida used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.
Florida needs to focus on proven tobacco control policies to save lives
The report urges Florida policymakers to focus on proven tobacco control policies to save lives and reduce the burden of tobacco use in the state. The report recommends the following actions to be taken by state officials:
- Repeal state laws that prevent local governments from passing stronger tobacco control policies, such as increasing the minimum age of sale, limiting the number and location of tobacco retailers, and banning the sale of flavored tobacco products.
- Increase the state tobacco tax by at least $1.50 per pack, and apply an equivalent tax to all other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
- Allocate at least 50% of the tobacco settlement funds to tobacco prevention and cessation programs, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Provide comprehensive coverage and access to services to quit tobacco for all Floridians, including Medicaid beneficiaries, state employees, and private insurance plans.
- Support the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its efforts to prohibit menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, which are disproportionately used by youth, people of color, and low-income populations.
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