Thursday, anti-smoking advocates will take a giant step to reverse those cuts. The tobacco settlement produced wild TV commercial; then Gov. Lawton Chiles promised piles of money to prevent teens from ever start smoking. In October 1997 former
Gov. Lawton Chiles said, "Florida’s children and our taxpayers are going to win.”
The campaign worked, but the promise of money wasn't kept. Since Chiles’ death, the TV ads are gone. Lawmakers decimated prevention funding, so anti-smoking advocates like Kitty Flynn are fighting back. She’s pushing a constitutional amendment to require the state to spend 15 cents of every dollar the state receives from the tobacco settlement on prevention.
Kitty says, “We kept going back to them year after year and asking for the money to be used for what it was designated for and we just kept getting turned down.”
Many lawmakers want to make it harder for citizens groups to go around the Legislature, but groups that have been successful at the ballot that say too many times, the Legislature hasn’t been listening.
Ted Forsgren spearheaded the successful net ban amendment.
Ted Forsgren with the Coastal Conservation Association says, "I mean, we couldn’t get it heard in committee. We couldn’t get it done by the Marine Fisheries Commission, and you know, there’s all these obstacles to having this stuff done.”
Tired of not having the final say, lawmakers are expected to ask voters this fall to make it harder to get to the ballot and pass.
The Cancer Society will announce on Thursday that it has enough signatures to put its prevention amendment on November's ballot.
Florida will receive $360 million from the tobacco settlement this year.