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Nunez Blasts ‘Lies’ In Tobacco Ballot Fight

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Tobacco Free Florida
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Florida Constitution Revision Commission member Jeanette Nunez is a veteran lawmaker who has been criticized for some positions she has taken in the state House. 

But Nunez, who is sponsoring a proposed constitutional amendment that could result in less money being spent on Florida’s anti-tobacco advertising campaign, said she has never been the target of the kind of criticism that has come her way since sponsoring the ballot proposal.

“They have used falsehoods and lies,” Nunez, a Miami Republican, told fellow members of the Constitution Revision Commission on Tuesday.

Nunez pointed to a flyer found on the website of a group that opposes her efforts. The flyer features her face along with an arrow that connects her to a South Florida attorney with alleged ties to tobacco companies who shares the same name as her husband.

“I can tell you, I don’t know who that guy is, but he’s certainly not my husband,” Nunez said, calling it an “outright falsehood” and “shocking.”

Ray Carson, a regional spokesman for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said his group, the American Heart Association and The American Lung Association had nothing to do with the flyer. The groups are working together to oppose the proposed amendment and using the moniker Protect Tobacco Free Florida.

“The Protect Tobacco Free Florida coalition and each of its member organizations, were not in any way involved, nor do we condone, the flyer that attacked Commissioner Nunez personally,” Carson said in an email statement to The News Service of Florida. “While we disagree with her on this issue, we respect her as a legislator and CRC commissioner and consider tactics like the one she described reprehensible.”

During a discussion of the proposal during a commission meeting Tuesday, Nunez faced a series of tough questions and ultimately asked that the commission defer taking a vote. She said she was going to continue to work on the proposed amendment to address concerns.

The proposed amendment would eliminate a decade-old requirement that the state set aside 30 percent of overall tobacco education and prevention funding for an edgy advertising and marketing campaign that currently receives $23 million a year. The money comes from a 1997 multibillion-dollar legal settlement with the tobacco industry.