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Protect Tobacco Free Florida applauds amendment’s demise

The Protect Tobacco Free Florida coalition is cheering the death of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have affected anti-smoking marketing efforts.

“This positive outcome preserves Florida’s constitutional commitment to protect the health of Floridians by using Big Tobacco’s own money to tell the truth about the dangers of their products,” said the coalition’s statement, released Friday.

Rep. Jeanette Nunez, a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), said Thursday she will no longer push a proposed constitutional amendment that would have eliminated a requirement that the state set aside 30 percent of overall tobacco-education and prevention funding for an edgy advertising and marketing campaign.

The proposal didn’t make it out of the commission’s three-day Session this week, dying on ‘temporary postponement’ status.

“Tobacco Free Florida, which is paid for with a portion of the tobacco settlement dollars, has proven to be highly effective in the fight against tobacco,” the statement said. “The program has helped the state achieve among the lowest youth smoking rates in the country and has driven Florida’s adult smoking rate to its lowest level in state history.

“The program also has helped more than 159,000 Floridians to quit using tobacco products over the past decade. These reduced smoking rates have saved the state billions of dollars in cumulative smoking-related health care costs, according to the Florida Department of Health.”

The commission’s Style & Drafting Committee now is working to get 25 active proposals ready for the November ballot, including grouping and writing summaries.

Its work will go back before the full commission, which must approve amendments by 22 votes of the 37-member panel. If passed, amendments go directly to the ballot, where they need at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution.

The CRC is formed every 20 years to review and suggest changes to the state’s governing document.

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Background provided by The News Service of Florida. 

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