Though the governor wants to restore $15 million to the program, teens say it's not enough. Thirteen-year-old Cara Young is hoping Florida's most powerful political leaders will take some advice from a kid. She came to Tallahassee to ask for more money for anti-teen smoking programs because she sees too many of her friends lighting up.
Cara belonged to a popular group called SWAT, or Students Working Against Tobacco, but when the legislature slashed its campaign from nearly $40 million to just $1 million last year, it wiped out swat in many schools around the state. Jeb bush wants to put 15 million back in to the effort and the Florida Department of Health is trying to think positive.
"We're looking at 15 times what we have right now for funding and hopefully with the 16 million total we can get back on the right track and continue the elements of the program that have proved most successful," says Phil Williams of the Florida Department of Health.
But skeptics say the $15 million won't be enough to fund the flashy, catchy and expensive anti-tobacco campaign that actually got kids' attention in recent years.
“That is what caused the smoking levels to go down in Florida and if you skip a year or two years without that, they're going to go back up,” says Sen. Frederica Wilson.
With Florida already spending nearly $5 million a year on smoking-related health care costs, teens like Cara say it's a battle Florida can't afford to fight on the cheap.
Former tobacco executive-turned-whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand has called Florida's limited use of tobacco settlement money a "moral treason” and wants more money poured into prevention programs.
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