News and Events > Antitobacco
Group Presses Governor To Restore Funding
ALLISON NORTH JONES
Tampa Tribune, January 7, 2004
$37 MILLION FOR 2003 IS CUT TO $1 MILLION
TALLAHASSEE - The state's leading antitobacco group Tuesday called
on Gov. Jeb Bush to fulfill a promise he made to restore funding
for a youth smoking prevention and control program after drastic
budget cuts over the past few years.
The program, which spent $37 million last year from the state's
landmark legal settlement with cigarette manufacturers, was allocated
$1 million this year. Bush promised at the time to seek increased
funding during the 2004 legislative session.
"We've acted on the assurances of our governor that he would
fight to restore funding - if we could just hang on,'' said Adrian
Abner, a former leader of Students Working Against Tobacco who has
met with Bush to discuss the issue. "He made a promise - both
publicly and to me personally - and we look to him to deliver on
One of many services cut by Republican leaders set on crafting a
"no-new-taxes'' budget, the program won't survive unless Bush
and the Legislature revive the cash-strapped program, according
to the American Lung Association of Florida. Advocates say $39 million
is needed to restore the program.
Bush spokesman Jacob DiPietre said Tuesday the governor is committed
to youth smoking prevention efforts, but wouldn't say exactly how
much will be proposed.
Since 1998 lawmakers have used a portion of Florida's $13 billion
settlement with the tobacco industry to pay for statewide youth
The state receives about $365 million annually as compensation for
years of footing medical bills for sick smokers. Although a portion
of the money is intended for prevention and control programs, lawmakers
eager to avoid tax increases have diverted it to social programs
while eliminating "nonessential'' services.
And while they argued the state's youth antitobacco efforts were
successful in curbing youth smoking - down from 25 percent in 1998
to 11.5 percent in 2003 - the antitobacco lobby warned lawmakers
against banking on continued declines if prevention continues to
" You can't throw out a quick fix and think it's going to sustain
over the years,'' said Brenda Olsen, director of governmental affairs
for Florida's American Lung Association.