Funding for Anti-Tobacco Programs

Supporters of anti-tobacco youth programs are outraged only $1 million was set aside by the Legislature. That's because it pales in comparison to $400 million the state will receive as part of the big tobacco lawsuit this year.

Advocates say it just doesn't add up. American Lung Association director Brenda Olsen says Florida lawmakers are helping the tobacco industry recruit a whole new generation of smokers.

“It’s impossible to think Florida can counteract to the $56 million a month the tobacco industry spends on advertising in Florida,” says Brenda.

Of the $400 million coming to Florida in 2004 from the big tobacco lawsuit, $1 million has been set aside for the second year in a row to fund programs such as SWAT, Students Working Against Tobacco.

When funded at $39 million, Olsen says the state saw a 60 percent reduction of smoking in middle schools and a 40 percent decrease in high schools. Now, it’s even hard to find a SWAT program, including Leon County.

Scott Brown, a Leon High School teacher, says, “There was no sponsor last year or this year. I guess part of that is just no money.”

Brown says it just doesn't make sense and fears the consequences. Olsen says from here supporters of SWAT will continue to fight and possibly look for funding from other sources.