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Florida gets F grade for lack of funding for smoking prevention programs

The State of Florida has received a failing grade for its smoking prevention programs.

The American Lung Association says Florida is not funding half of the recommended level.

The news comes amid Rush Limbaugh, conservative political commentator and Florida homeowner, announcing he has been diagnosed with lung cancer.

“I can’t help but feel that I’m letting everybody down with this,” Limbaugh said in a statement. “The upshot is that I have been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.”

Limbaugh’s website says he started smoking when he was 16 years old. That’s close in age to David Braun in Fort Myers.

“I started smoking at 18 when I went to school in the south, and it was $0.25 a pack,” Braun said. “And I continued when I was in the military, and I quit four years ago.”

But the American Lung Association says Florida isn’t doing enough to help people quit or prevent smoking.

“I ended up with a heart condition, which is exactly what the doctor said was gonna happen when you smoke,” Braun said.

Most states received F grades from the lung association.

Nonsmoker Grace DeSalvo says she knows a lot of people who still need help.

“I’m sure people know they should not be smoking,” DeSalvo said. “But, if you got a habit, you got a habit.”

Another low grade: Florida has yet to pass a law stopping anyone under 21 from buying all nicotine products.

“Just my kids telling me I can’t breathe,” DeSalvo said. “I did it basically for the kids.”

The state’s anti-smoking organization, Tobacco Free Florida, recently got a budget boost. It provides millions of dollars for its quitting hotline, a new referral program and in-person counseling.

Steps for the state to receive a higher grade include raising the smoking age to 21, regulate electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, and increase tobacco prevention and control funding to CDC recommended levels.

It’s important to note there is a new federal law that just went into effect nationwide, banning anyone under 21 to buy tobacco products.

“I don’t miss it, and I’m glad I stopped, really,” said.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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