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Florida Legislative Session: Week 1

The Florida Legislature kicked off the 2018 Regular Session on January 9. In addition to advocating for policies at the State Capitol, we also are advocating against a proposal to the Florida Constitution relating to youth tobacco prevention. 

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Youth Tobacco Prevention

According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, "published research studies have found that kids are twice as sensitive to tobacco advertising as adults and are more likely to be influenced to smoke by cigarette marketing than by peer pressure." The organization also reports that the tobacco industry spends approximately $558.8 million each year marketing in Florida and 6,700 kids under age 18 become new daily smokers each year in the state.

Yet, the Constitution Revision Committee (CRC) is debating to a proposal (#94) to the state constitution that would redirect dollars from Tobacco Free Florida's youth prevention and cessation efforts to cancer research. In fact, the Finance and Taxation Committee of the CRC voted 3-2 in favor of this proposal introduced by Commissioner Jeanette Nunez, who also serves as a State Representative from Miami-Dade; two two Miami-Dade County Commissioners were absent for the vote. The American Heart Association remains staunchly against this proposal to divert funds. 

The measure next goes before the full CRC where public input will not be considered. However, prior to their deliberations the CRC will conduct a listening tour in five locations around Florida:

  • February 6th, 1:00-7:00 p.m. – Ft. Lauderdale
  • February 19th, 1:00-7:00 p.m. - Melbourne
  • February 20th, 1:00-7:00 p.m. – Jacksonville
  • February 27th, 1:00-7:00 p.m. - Pensacola
  • March 13th, 1:00-7:00 p.m. – St. Petersburg

We will marshal our forces and coordinate efforts with our coalition colleagues to speak at each public forum and ensure the defeat of Proposal #94. Please stay tuned for calls to action in opposition, so we can make an impact on the CRC.

State Capitol Updates

Below are updates for the key policies we're promoting during session.

Tobacco 21: The American Heart Association is urging legislators to support House Bill 1029 and Senate Bill 1288 to raise the minimum legal sale age of tobacco from 18 to 21. This week, to get the Tobacco 21 legislation moving through the legislative process, AHA government relations staff expended considerable energy working secure a hearing for our Tobacco 21 legislation in its first committee stop, the House Careers and Competition subcommittee. Though we haven’t been successful yet, additional meetings are scheduled over the next five weeks and we continue to press the Chair, Rep. Halsey Beshears, to schedule the hearing. We are confident a hearing will be held. Please call Rep Beshears at 850-717-5007 and ask him to place House Bill 1029 on the House Careers and Competition subcommittee's agenda.

Bill status:

  • HB 1029 – Reps. Lori Berman, Bill Hager (and others). Referred to Careers & Competition Subcommittee; Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee; Commerce Committee.
  • SB 1288 – Sen. David Simmons (and others). Regulated Industries Committee; Commerce & Tourism Committee; Rules Committee.

STEMI Registry: The American Heart Association is urging legislators to support House Bill 1313 and Senate Bill 1032 to establish a centralized, statewide STEMI Registry to reduce the frequency and cost of ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) heart attacks. If passed, the registry would take effect on July 1, 2018.

Bill status: 

  • HB 1313 – Rep. Lawrence McClure. Referred to Health Innovations Subcommittee; Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee; and Health and Human Services Committee.
  • SB 1032 – Sen Dennis Baxley. Referred to Health Policy Committee; Appropriations Committee on Health & Human Services; and Appropriations Committee.

Your voice will be crucial to passing these two policies. Stay tuned for future You're the Cure alerts with the latest calls-to-action!

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