Florida gets an F on the American Lung Association's tobacco control report card
Florida is failing when it comes to controlling tobacco and preventing smoking, according to a new report from The American Lung Association.
Florida’s lack of tobacco control and efforts to prevent smoking has earned the state failing grades in an annual report from the American Lung Association.
"With the 2023 state of tobacco control report, Florida, unfortunately, was listed as one of the states with the worst policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use," said Janelle Hom, director of the Central Florida Lung Association office.
Florida was given an F on nearly all groupings of tobacco control in the 2023 report card, including pouring more money into prevention funding, enforcing more taxes and restricting flavored products.
The state received a D in offering access to cessation services.
Florida earned a B in smoke-free air in most establishments. It was nearly an A in this category, but Hom said bars are holding back the state.
“People who work in bars are exposed to a lot of secondhand smoke, and for many of them, it may be against their own will and against their own health. So that is the one area that we would like to see a little more local control over and be able to move that grade into an A,” Hom said.
The states with the worst grades were: Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas.
The best grades were earned by the District of Columbia, California, Maine and Massachusetts.
While Florida's grades aren't great, Hom said the state does have a path to improvement.
“First, to reinstate local control of the marketing, sale, and delivery of tobacco and nicotine products to a local government to institute strong regulation and licensing of all tobacco retailers, including electronic cigarette retailers with annual compliance and enforcement,” Hom said.
Additionally, Florida could also offer smoke-free protections for all workers and residents, including those who work in bar establishments.
One of Florida's F grades came from the Flavored Product category due to it having no state law or regulation surrounding the products.
The reason why the American Lung Association takes that category seriously is because of the bridge it creates for a younger generation.
"We very much see a targeted aspect to getting the next generation of tobacco users. So largely, these flavored tobacco products are very much targeted to children and youth and the Lung Association has been taking a number of actions to target flavored tobacco, as well as menthol," Hom said.
Last year, the Food and Drug Administration proposed rules prohibiting menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars to prevent youth initiation, which it believes would significantly reduce tobacco-related disease and death.
"We're currently in the comment period, and we're expecting a final ruling sometime early this year," Hom said. "So when we talk about flavored tobacco products, we do need to close the loopholes and ensure that not only are we really restricting these from the market, knowing that they are really targeted toward youth and creating that next generation of tobacco users, but also closing the loophole for any sort of illegal flavored tobacco products."