Doing Better For Our Kids

The American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control 2012 is out, giving grades for each state in program spending, smoke-free air quality, cigarette tax, and money spent for cessation.  If this was an actual report card, the State of Florida would have to go to summer school for additional credit or risk being held back a year.

According to the report, Florida received an “F” in tobacco prevention control and spending.  State and Federal funding combined for Florida is $67,499,233, whereas the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation is $210,900,000.  Florida is only at 32% of the CDC recommended level.  Two states, Alaska and North Dakota received A’s.  Alaska spent 114.2% of the CDC recommended level.  North Dakota was at 99%.

In the area of Smokefree Air, Florida receives a “B.”  Smoking has been prohibited in workplaces, schools, restaurants, retail stores and recreational/cultural facilities.  Bars that make less than 10% from their annual food sales are allowed to have smoking, otherwise smoking is prohibited inside.  Florida does enforce these laws and does penalize those who violate them.  Florida would have received an “A” in this area but “state preemption of stricter local ordinances is penalized by a reduction of one letter grade.”

Under Cigarette Tax, Florida received a “D” as did 11 other states.  The current tax rate per pack of 20 cigarettes is $1.339 in Florida.  Five states received an “A” by having a cigarette tax over $3.00/pack.  New York has a $4.35/pack tax, the highest in the nation.

Florida also received an “F” in the area of Cessation, as did 30 other states.  The state Medicaid program covers all seven recommended medications and counseling.  There may be some limitations depending on the health plan.  State employee health plans cover some of the medications, but offer no counseling and put lifetime limits on quit attempts.   For the state Quitline, CDC recommends an investment of $10.53/smoker, but Florida spends approximately $4.16.  According to this site, there is no private insurance mandate.  Check your own insurance coverage for cessation coverage.

Delaware is the only state that received all grades of “C” or higher.

There are just over 19 million people living in Florida, according to Wikipedia.   Figures from the State of Tobacco Control show that the adult smoking rate is 17.1%, or slightly more than 3.2 million people.  The high school smoking rate is 13.1% and the middle school rate is 4.9%; that’s an 8.2% jump in smokers between middle school and high school.

Tobacco prevention education is crucial to halting young people from starting a lifetime of tobacco use.  Studies have shown that people rarely start smoking as adults, and that most smokers start in their early or mid-teens.  Reaching youth when they are most likely to start thinking about using tobacco is the first step in prevention.

The Florida Statewide Tobacco Prevention and Intervention Program for educators provides teachers and guidance counselors the information they need to teach their students about the dangers of tobacco and how the tobacco industry lies to our youth.   Our course is a FREE, self-paced course and is available 24/7 online.  You must be able to do a pre- and post-survey and teach six (6) lessons to students in order to qualify for points.  Once completed, you may receive up to 60 teacher in-service credits toward recertification.  Take a moment to look at our site:  www.tobaccopreventiontraining.org

If every teacher in Florida taught tobacco prevention classes, over 2.6 million students would be reached.   What a great start that would be to making Florida and our students healthier.

State of Tobacco Control

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