FLORIDA, USA — Every year, the American Lung Association looks at each state's efforts to eliminate tobacco use and publishes them on a report card called the State of Tobacco Control.
And Florida's grades this year were less than stellar.
The Sunshine State got an "F" in three out of five categories: tobacco prevention funding, tobacco taxes and restrictions on flavored tobacco products.
As far as funding, Florida is spending $80,569,209 — a combination of state and federal funds — on tobacco control programs in the 2023 fiscal year. That's just 41.5% of the CDC's recommended $194,200,000 that Florida should be spending on the programs, according to the report.
Florida's tobacco taxes are also lacking, based on the American Lung Association's criteria. While we do have taxes on cigarettes, pipes and smokeless tobacco, we don't have taxes on cigars or e-cigarettes like some of the higher-scoring states.
And Florida's "F" in flavored tobacco product regulation is pretty straightforward — the state has no laws or regulations for them.
Florida did score a slighter higher "D" in access to cessation services for its different programs to help people looking to quit smoking.
The state also redeemed itself with a "B" in the smoke-free air category for its policies to restrict tobacco products in places like schools and restaurants.
Florida didn't completely fall to the bottom of the pack on the American Lung Association's report card. Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas were the worst-graded states, with "F" scores in all categories.
How can Florida improve tobacco control?
The American Lung Association did note Florida's progress in passing HB 105, a law that allows counties and municipalities to enforce smoke-free policies on beaches and parks.
Since the law was passed, several local counties and cities have banned smoking at parks and beaches, including Hernando County and St. Petersburg.
To further these tobacco-restricting efforts, the American Lung Association suggests that Florida:
- Give control of the marketing, sale and delivery of tobacco and nicotine products back to local governments
- Institute strong regulation and licensing of all tobacco retailers with annual compliance and enforcement
- Ensure smoke-free protections for all workers and residents, including those who work in bars.