According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 2.5 million adults in Florida - 15.5% - are current cigarette smokers. Just in Miami-Dade, 13.51% of adults are tobacco users.

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in Florida and the United States.  Around 32,000 Floridians die each year from their own smoking, meaning that tobacco use kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined, says a peer-reviewed study from JAMA Internal Medicine. Moreover, CDC’s recent health and medical spending surveys estimated that the annual healthcare costs in Florida for illness caused by tobacco smoke amounted to $8.64 billion, and, surprisingly, public programs like Medicare and Medicaid paid for most of these costs.

Despite these figures, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) has made enormous efforts in lowering tobacco use across the state, especially due to the prevention program Tobacco Free Florida (TFF). “The program has resulted in a significant decrease in smoking rates among both adults and teens in the state, leading to billions of dollars and countless lives saved,” said Islamiyat Adebisi, Health Educator Consultant at DOH.

In the last decade, since the creation of the program in 2007, the adult smoking rate has decreased to its lowest rate in years and fewer young people have started smoking:  from 10.6 percent in 2006 to 3 percent in 2016—an astounding 71 percent decrease.  In addition, annual smoking-related healthcare costs in Florida decreased 15 percent from 2006 to 2015 because of fewer adults smoking, which meant savings of $17.7 billion in smoking-related health care costs across the state.

However, Ms. Adebisi remarks that there is more work to be done, especially in vulnerable populations as they are disproportionately affected by the burden of tobacco use. The health burden of tobacco use is especially high among racial and ethnic minorities, low-income individuals, the LGBT community and those with mental health conditions.

Addressing these disparate groups still using tobacco at higher rates is a top priority. That’s why TFF launched the initiative Achieving Health Equity during the 10th annual Tobacco Free Florida Week, which took place from April 2 to 10. “Through this initiative, we intend to reach out and make sure the residents of these vulnerable communities know about the services available to help them quit for good,” added Islamiyat Adebisi.

Tobacco Free Florida’s Quit Your Way program gives tobacco users in all counties access to free tools and services to help them quit. These free services have helped more than 188,000 Floridians successfully quit tobacco. If you are trying to quit, please visit tobaccofreeflorida.com/quityourway.

Haz clic para leer en Español: El Programa de prevención \'Tobacco Free Florida\' ha ayudado a disminuir las tasas de tabaquismo

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