Finally, some Floridian behavior to celebrate.
A new report concludes that Florida has the second lowest smoking rate amongst high school students of every state in the union. In fact, Florida's efforts to curb youth smoking has been so successful that researchers are actually issuing a "Florida Challenge" to other states.
The joint study was conducted by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and the American Lung Association.
It found that only 7.5 percent of Florida's high school students light up. That's in stark contrast to the 15.7 percent rate nationwide.
Florida's low rate is the result of a well-funded anti-smoking campaign targeted at teenagers. In fact the report signals it out as a model for other states. Imagine that! Florida as a role model!
"Most states are literally sacrificing the health of their children and costing taxpayers billions by refusing to properly fund tobacco prevention efforts and ignoring the mountain of evidence that these programs save lives and money," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in a statement. "Florida's remarkable progress shows we can create a tobacco-free generation -- but only if elected leaders wake up and aggressively implement proven solutions. That's why we're issuing this 'Florida Challenge' to spur every state to increase funding for tobacco prevention programs, a crucial step toward our tobacco-free vision."
"Florida has shown the way by setting an example that other states should follow. The American Heart Association calls on all state lawmakers to invest in these proven programs that will save lives and money," adds Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association.
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Naturally, none of this praise has anything to do with any recent politician.
In fact, it was Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles and AG Bob Buttersworth who sued the tobacco industry way back in 1995 and won an $11.3 billion out-of-court settlement. That money is now used in part to fund anti-smoking programs.
Only Utah has a lower rate, but Utah is traditionally the goody two shoes of America. Their only sin is overindulgence in Jell-O. There's no beating them in these types of rankings, so take this as the pure win it is.