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On today’s rundown, all eyes on the G.O.P. tax plan - labor groups say it’s not good for working families, and the view from Michigan is the likely loss of many services across the state; plus, report today on Black Friday and Native American Heritage Day

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Report: Florida a Leader in Reducing Smoking Rates

Florida is ranked 15th in the nation for smoking cessation and prevention spending, according to a new report. (robertjojorge/morguefile)
Florida is ranked 15th in the nation for smoking cessation and prevention spending, according to a new report. (robertjojorge/morguefile)
December 17, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The number of Florida high school kids who smoke has dropped to an all-time low, according to new data analyzing the impact of what states spend on smoking prevention-and-cessation programs.

According to the report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, this year Florida will spend nearly $68 million in that effort, the largest single dollar amount of any state.

But as campaign spokesman John Schachter points out, that's only about a third of what the CDC recommends, and a fraction of what Big Tobacco spends advertising and marketing its products.

"We've made so much progress, that people and legislators and policy makers may think the battle is over," says Schachter. "But regardless of what states are doing and unfortunately they're doing a lot less than they should be the industry is not letting up."

The report, called "Broken Promises to Our Children," looks at how every state is spending its portion of a settlement with major tobacco companies over a 1998 lawsuit.

This year, states will collect almost $26 billion from the settlement and tobacco taxes, but they will spend less than two percent of that on tobacco-use prevention programs, according to the analysis.

With Florida's annual smoking-related health care costs totaling close to $9 billion, Schachter says these programs impact public health as well as finances.

"So it's clearly one of the smartest and wisest investments a state can make and states need to realize that and invest accordingly," says Schachter.

In 2006, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring the state to spend 15 percent of its annual tobacco settlement revenue on tobacco prevention programs, which Schachter notes was a turning point for the state. The report recommends the state consider increasing its tax on cigarettes by $1 a pack.

The full report is available at TobaccoFreeKids.org.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL