Accusations Fly at Capitol over Report on Anti-Tobacco Funding

The report is being made public just as lawmakers consider wiping out the anti-smoking campaign altogether. Over the past five years teen smoking has dropped by 57 percent among Florida's middle schoolers.

Seventeen-year-old Lyndsie Reaves is one of the thousands of teens who credit SWAT, or Students Working Against Tobacco.

“They showed the different possibilities of what happens, the mouth cancer, the lung cancer, they showed how awful it really is,” says Lyndsie.

But legislators haven't put a dime into the SWAT program this year. Budget writer Bruce Kyle hates the controversial ads like the one from the truth anti-smoking campaign.

"I think one-on-one, peer-to-peer review with kids on these issues is more effective than a slick campaign," Bruce Kyle, (R) Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Health advocates were dismayed when the governor only recommended $16 million for anti-teen smoking programs, but that's better than nothing, which is what they could be looking at if the Legislature has its way.

Health advocates say the state tried to hide this report from the public. It recommends a minimum of $40 million a year to fight teen smoking, but the governor doesn't know whether the program will survive.

“Some would say you need to spend a lot more. Others suggest an effective campaign could be done with 16 million. It really depends, but right now we got none, and that's a problem,” says Gov. Jeb Bush, (R) Florida.

Health advocates say it's a problem that will only cost more overtime. Floridians already spend well over $4.5 billion on tobacco-related health care.

Florida's anti-smoking program was almost wiped out last year when lawmakers slashed it from $40 million to just $1 million. We'll let you know how it fares in the days to come.


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