About Tobacco Free Florida

In November 2006, Florida’s voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment, Article X, Section 27, that called for establishing a comprehensive tobacco education and use prevention program using a percentage of the state’s tobacco settlement fund. As a result, Tobacco Free Florida (TFF) launched in 2007.TFF is administered through the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida (BTFF), and funded by money derived from the state’s tobacco settlement agreement with the major tobacco companies in 1997. These tobacco lawsuits were intended to punish cigarette makers for decades of fraud and racketeering and to help states pay for the Medicaid and other public health expenses to cover sick smokers. Florida was among three other states – Texas, Mississippi and Minnesota – that settled with the tobacco industry before the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 between the other 46 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The BTFF takes great pride in its successful statewide media campaign. Every decision—from which ads to air to where to air them—is made with great consideration and a focus on maximizing the reach and impact for TFF’s desired result—to inspire Floridians to quit smoking and discourage youth from starting.

The media presence also lays the ground work for grantees in each of Florida’s counties to approach local businesses and organizations to participate in county Tobacco Free Florida Partnerships; establish Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) chapters; approach employers about the benefits of offering cessation services to their employees; approach apartment and other housing complex owners about the benefits of smoke-free properties; and, to approach city and county commissions about the dangers of flavored tobacco products.

TFF also works with Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) to streamline efforts in Florida communities, helping to ensure that the work of grantees and AHEC staff was well-coordinated. The AHECs also worked with health care professionals throughout the state to provide education on tobacco addiction and treatment.

Changing behaviors related to tobacco is critical in Florida, where tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable and disease. Each year more than 28,100 adults die from smoking.1

If current smoking rates continue, 270,200 Florida children alive today who are younger than 18 years of age will die prematurely as a result of smoking.2 Furthermore, the annual direct costs to the economy in Florida attributable to smoking in 2009 were in excess of $19.6 billion, including premature death losses of $7.9 billion, direct medical costs of $7.2 billion, and lost workplace productivity of $4.4 billion.3

Guiding Principles

A mandate of the constitutional amendment is that the program follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs. This guide helps states plan and establish evidence-based comprehensive, sustained, and accountable tobacco control programs to prevent and reduce tobacco use. Following these principles, TFF reaches millions of Floridians through hard-hitting media campaigns, public relations, social media, evidence-based tobacco cessation services, grassroots initiatives, county-level grants that advance tobacco-free policies, a youth-led movement called Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT), school-based interventions, and surveillance and evaluation to ensure effectiveness.

Results

Comprehensive tobacco control programs, like TFF, work. Throughout the state, TFF awareness is high: 84% among adult smokers and 78.5% among youth.4  The campaign has high receptivity and perceived effectiveness, and shows a positive impact on smoking-related attitudes and behaviors.

 

In 2012, the smoking rate of adults in Florida was 17.7%, well below the national average of 19.6%.5  The smoking rate for high school students in Florida decreased to 8.6 percent in 2013,6  one of the lowest high school smoking rates ever recorded by any state and far below the national average of 23.3 percent.7  The number of youth who have pledged never to smoke has increased from 55 percent in 2006 to 67.7 percent in 2013.8

 

TFF is saving lives and saving taxpayers millions of dollars. The decrease in smokers resulted in an estimated savings of as much as $4.2 billion in personal health care expenditures since the inception of TFF in 2007.9  Lower health care costs mean more funds available for business investments.10  A healthier workforce equals increased productivity in the form of fewer sick days,11 faster recovery time for employees, and fewer illnesses due to tobacco-related disease. In addition, those former smokers are no longer spending money on tobacco products, allowing that money to be spent in other ways for their families.

 

An effective program doesn’t end at preventing youth from starting and helping people quit, but also by protecting Floridians from exposure to secondhand smoke. Since the program was established, 23.4% fewer middle students and 20.2 % fewer high school students in Florida reported living in a home where someone else smoked.12

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