The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has released its report “Broken Promises to Our Children” regarding the funding states have received from tobacco companies through the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement and how it is spent on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. While the U.S. has made progress in lowering tobacco use among teens and adults, tobacco still kills over 480,000 American every year. In Fiscal Year 2019, states will collect an estimated $27 billion from the settlement and from revenue on tobacco sales, but most of that money will go to funding other state projects rather than tobacco prevention programs to keep youth from starting tobacco, and health care and cessation programs that would decrease adult use.
In the new FY2019 report Florida earned a state ranking of 9 compared to 14 in FY2018. While we will be taking in $1.5 billion in total state tobacco revenue, we will be spending only $70.4 million on tobacco prevention, 36.3% of the CDC recommended spending of $194.2 million. That is certainly more than other states, but it is far short of the $605.3 million the tobacco industry is spending on marketing in our state.
The national youth smoking rate is 7.6% for high school students, and Florida’s rate is 3.6%, one of the lowest in the nation (Connecticut is 3.5%, but their population is much lower). While we can applaud the low smoking rate, e-cigarette use rate is 24.8%, one of the highest rates in the nation. Ten other states have e-cigarette use rates in the 20 percentile and three states are above Floria’s rate. Every year 5,600 kids under 18 become new daily smokers in Florida, up from previous reports.
If we continue on our current path, 844,500 kids in Florida who are now alive will become smokers. Those who smoke during their youth also have a higher likelihood of smoking as adults. The current adult smoking rate in Florida is 16.1% or about 2.7 million adults. We rank 22nd in the nation for adult smokers. Every year approximately 32,300 Floridians die from smoking. That means of the kids under 18 alive today, approximately 270,000 will die prematurely from smoking.
We can see the emotion cost of smoking in our family members who suffer from smoking-related health issues, but the monetary cost is also extremely high. Our annual health care costs directly caused by smoking are $8.64 billion and Medicaid costs are $1.51.billion. Our state loses $8.32 billion in lost productivity by workers due to smoking. And every household is paying $760 per year in state and federal tax burdens from smoking-caused government expenditures.
Since 2007, Florida has had strong youth tobacco prevention and education programs available, as well as cessation programs for adults through Tobacco Free Florida. And since 2010 the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators has been offering online tobacco prevention courses for educators, allowing any teacher, administrator or school counselor in public, private or charter schools to take our course at no charge to them or their district. After completion of the course and the teaching of six (6) tobacco prevention lessons, participants are awarded either 30- or 60-points towards FLDOE certificate renewal. This year we added a nurse’s course for all Florida school nurses and a 10-point e-cigarette course for Palm Beach educators.
These numbers don’t have to be our future. We can lower smoking and e-cigarette use rates with new legislation at our state level. Increasing the tobacco age to 21, removing internet sales of tobacco products, and increasing fines and penalties for retailers who sell nicotine products to under-aged customers would decrease youth use. Raising taxes on cigarettes and taxing e-cigarettes would also help decrease youth use and increase adult cessation efforts. These small changes would decrease tobacco use among our youth and adults and protect them from a lifelong addiction to nicotine.
Click HERE to see the spreadsheet for all states.
Click HERE to see the full report of Broken Promises to Our Children
All images used above are taken from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids report and articles regarding this report.
Click HERE to register for the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course.