Tobacco use remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 480,000 lives every year. This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” report from the American Lung Association finds Florida earned failing grades on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use. The American Lung Association calls on Florida officials to enact provisions of Constitutional Amendment 9 approved by the voters that would save lives by expanding current smoke-free protections to include the use of e-cigarettes.

The need for Florida to take action to protect youth from tobacco is more urgent than ever, with youth e-cigarette use reaching epidemic levels due to a 78 percent increase in high school e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018, according to results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey. This equals one million additional kids beginning to use e-cigarettes, placing their developing bodies and lungs at risk from the chemicals in e-cigarettes as well as a lifetime of addiction to a deadly product. This has caused the U.S. Surgeon General to declare e-cigarette use among young people an epidemic in an Advisory issued in December 2018.

“In Florida, our smoking rates remain at 16.1 percent. Tobacco use is a serious addiction and we need to invest in the proven measures to prevent and reduce tobacco use outlined in ‘State of Tobacco Control’,” said American Lung Association Director of Advocacy, Ashley Lyerly. “The report provides a roadmap on how to save lives, but much work remains to be done in communities across Florida to prevent and reduce tobacco use.”

The 17th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and finds that while Florida has taken significant steps to reduce tobacco use, including voters approving a constitutional amendment prohibiting e-cigarette use in public places and workplaces where smoking is prohibited, elected officials must do more to save lives and ensure all Florida residents benefit from reductions in tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke:

  • Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade [F]
  • Strength of Smoke-free Workplace Laws - Grade [B]
  • Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade [F]
  • Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade [F]
  • Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade [F]

The American Lung Association encourages Florida to fully fund tobacco control efforts at levels recommended by the CDC, and in particular, this year’s report noted the need to legislatively extend protections from secondhand smoke and secondhand e-cigarette emissions to all workers in Florida. Both the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine have warned about the risks of inhaling secondhand e-cigarette emissions, which are created when an e-cigarette user exhales the chemical cocktail created by e-cigarettes.

The American Lung Association applauds Floridians for standing up for public health by overwhelmingly approving Amendment 9 and extending protections from secondhand smoke and secondhand e-cigarette emissions to workers in Florida. The Florida Legislature should move swiftly to pass authorizing legislation to add e-cigarettes to Florida’s Clean Indoor Air Act. This health protection would benefit everyone and is especially critical for those who work in the service and manufacturing sectors who are often exposed to secondhand smoke and secondhand e-cigarette emissions daily. “Opportunities for better health begin where people work, live and play, and a person should not have to be exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke and secondhand e-cigarette emissions to put food on the table,” said Lyerly.

“State of Tobacco Control” 2019 provides a blueprint that states and the federal government can follow to put in place proven policies that will have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in the U.S. The real question is: Will lawmakers in Florida end their failure to act and take this opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease?”

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