TALLAHASSEE, FL – Amid stalled progress in reducing youth tobacco use and a pandemic that has made Floridians acutely aware of the importance of respiratory health, Florida lawmakers are advancing bills HB 987 and SB 1080 that would maintain harsh penalties strictly on youth and leave numerous tobacco products unregulated, rather than included in the proven policies that hold the industry responsible.
The below statement is on behalf of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation (PTAF), American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids.
“At such a critical time for public health, these bills are a gift to the industry responsible for today’s youth tobacco epidemic. It’s a tactic straight from Big Tobacco’s playbook to put forth a seemingly promising policy – updating Florida law to meet the federal age of sale for tobacco products – muddled with provisions and exceptions for the industry that would perpetuate the unregulated environment that has allowed the industry and its allies to addict the next generation to their deadly products.
“The continued inaction by the state to regulate tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, demands strong, local laws that protect our children from a lifetime of addiction. This bill not only lacks the effective protections needed to address today’s youth tobacco epidemic, but blocks our localities from being able to pass and enforce the proven policies that would do so.
“By failing to regulate all tobacco products equally, including harmful penalties on youth for purchase, use and possession (PUP) of tobacco products and introducing an enforcement process separate from existing statues, the bills create unnecessary bureaucracy that wastes taxpayer dollars and would have no impact on deterring youth from a lifetime of addiction.
“We are especially concerned about the additional harm such bills create for our youth. Research shows PUP laws are not a successful deterrent but rather a scapegoat for the industry to remain unregulated and inappropriately shift blame onto kids and teens. PUP laws can also be used to target certain youth and are problematic for our communities of color who report receiving more frequent citations compared to white children and teens.
“We urge lawmakers to do the right thing and enact the policies we know work. Florida has the opportunity to meet the moment and offer true, just protections for our kids by establishing a licensing system that sets a steady foundation for effective enforcement and holds repeat violators who sell illegally to our kids accountable with appropriate fines and license revocations as well as regulating all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, equally. Penalizing our youth and preempting our local communities from passing the laws that would truly protect our children from deadly tobacco products benefits no one but the industry itself.”
About ACS CAN at 20
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that saves lives. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and made workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. As we mark our 20th anniversary, we’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers and save more lives from cancer. Join the fight by visiting www.fightcancer.org.
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About The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation (PTAF)
The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation (PTAF) and its advocacy arm, Tobacco 21, work nationwide to raise the legal minimum sales age to 21 and advance legislation to prevent youth initiation and addiction to tobacco and nicotine.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
About the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. We work to save lives by advocating for public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke. For more information, visit tobaccofreekids.org.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.