A recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed the gaps in the Florida State Health Report. According to the report, “Every year, nearly 8,000 deaths in Florida could be avoided if all residents in the state had a fair chance to be healthy,” and Florida would have 544,000 fewer adult smokers if changes could be made.
In terms of adult smoking, the “best” Florida counties had a 14% smoking rate, which matched the “best US counties” number, while the “worst” counties were at 26%. Breaking it down like this gives us a better picture of the state as both The Toll of Tobacco in Florida from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the State of Tobacco Control 2015 report from the American Lung Association lists Florida adult smokers at 16.8%, or about 2,661,000 smokers.
So what does the report suggest the state do to lower the adult smoking rate? The first is to have “proactive tobacco quitlines,” which Florida has in place. Having medical professions discuss quitting smoking with every patient would also help increase quitting.
The second strategy is to have “smoke-free policies for indoor areas.” If every restaurant, bar, and public area in the state of Florida were smoke-free and the bans were strictly followed, it would reduce the amount of secondhand smoke everyone would be exposed to, reducing health issues in both large and small counties.
Being able to control tobacco marketing in terms of “pricing, flavoring, placement, or promotion of tobacco products,” would help counties to decrease youth access which would hopefully mean fewer adult tobacco users.
And finally increasing the price to tobacco would decrease adult use and stop some youth from ever beginning, which would ultimately mean fewer adult smokers. If those in poverty spent less money on tobacco or quit altogether, it would mean more money in their pockets for other expenses like food, medical care and housing. “Annual health care costs in Florida directly caused by smoking” are at $8.64 billion.
Tobacco use is a vicious cycle of reducing the income of users, and reducing their health, which goes back to reducing their income due to tobacco-related illnesses. If Florida can remove or reduce tobacco from this cycle, it would improve the lives of the residents and reduce the loss of productivity of the state which is at $8.32 billion a year.
Of course, there is a lot more to the health report besides tobacco. Obesity, alcoholism, uninsured residents, unemployment, poverty, housing issues, crime, and education all play a part in the Florida health equation. But taking tobacco out of the equation would improve the health of not only the users but the state as a whole as it would have a ripple effect in other areas.
You can download and read the entire report HERE.