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August 24, 2007

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH RECOGNIZES 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF MULTI- BILLION DOLLAR TOBACCO SETTLEMENT

TALLAHASSEE— Florida Department of Health State Surgeon General Ana M. Viamonte Ros M.D., M.P.H. today acknowledged this weekend as the tenth anniversary of the landmark multi-billion dollar settlement between the state of Florida and the four largest tobacco companies, Brown and Williamson, Lorrilard, R.J. Reynolds, and Phillip Morris.



“The settlement was a huge step forward for public health,” State Surgeon General Ana M. Viamonte Ros, M.D., M.P.H. said. “However, each day brings new opportunities to save lives by reducing the number of smokers in Florida.”



On August 25, 1997, Florida became the second state, after Mississippi, to reach a settlement with the major tobacco companies for compensation for smoking related illnesses incurred by Medicaid recipients. The settlement provided for permanent yearly payments to the State of Florida. The tobacco settlement payment to Florida totals $389 million dollars for this state fiscal year.



In November 2006, Florida's voters approved an amendment to the State Constitution to designate 15% of the tobacco settlement funds, which currently totals about $58 million, for a comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation program that is consistent with Best Practices recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



To implement the constitutional amendment, in the spring of 2007 the Florida Legislature enacted Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 1126. This new law created the Comprehensive Statewide Tobacco Education and Use Prevention program at the Department of Health. The bill also created an advisory council to advise the department regarding the use of funds for the program.



The Comprehensive Statewide Tobacco Education and Use Prevention program will include advertisements on radio and television, tobacco prevention programs in local communities, an expanded tobacco cessation program, and educational programs regarding the damaging health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.



Research indicates that 70% of adult smokers want to quit, that smokers typically make many attempts before successfully quitting and that 5% succeed in any given year. Most importantly, 51% of persons who have ever smoked have successfully quit.



Between 1998 and 2006, youth smoking prevalence rates in Florida have declined by 64.3% for middle school students and by 43.4% percent for high school students.



For more information on the Florida Tobacco Prevention Program visit http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Tobacco/tobacco_home.html .



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PR-045 Contact:

Olga Connor

Rosa Oses-Prealoni

Miami-Dade County

Health Department

786-336-1276

August 24, 2007





Miami-Dade County statistics:



S.W.A.T. and “Truth” have brought dramatic results: Tobacco use among Miami-Dade County middle school students has decreased by 7.0 percent from 9.5 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2006. Miami Kick Butts Day annual celebration sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, revealed the deceptive tobacco industry practices and shocking chemicals found in tobacco products. The Miami-Dade event held last March 2007 was a success in generating awareness about the harmful chemicals found in tobacco products, said Maria T. Martinez, tobacco prevention specialist for the Miami-Dade County Health Department.



Overall tobacco use among Miami-Dade County high school students has decreased by 11.2 percent from 16.4 percent in 2000 to 14.6 percent in 2006.



- The prevalence of cigarette use among Miami-Dade County middle school students has decreased by 28.7 percent from 6.1 percent in 2000 to 4.4 percent in 2006. The prevalence of cigarette use among Miami-Dade County high school students has decreased by 16.9 percent from 12.0 percent in 2000 to 10.0 percent in 2006.



- Florida trends from the 2004 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey Report:



Since 1998, the prevalence of "ever having tried cigarettes" decreased by 31.4 percent among high school students and by 38.8 percent among middle school students.



Since 1998, the prevalence of current cigarette use decreased by 36.9 percent among high school students and by 57.8 percent among middle school students.



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