Cancer society volunteers rally for funding

Hundreds of cancer survivors and loved ones are joining forces with anti-smoking advocates to push for a tough new health program at the Capitol.

They rallied in Tallahassee Tuesday in support of an effort to draft a comprehensive anti-youth smoking campaign that voters approved in the last election.

Voters gave the go-ahead to put nearly 60-million dollars into the effort.

Senator Durrell Peaden, a retired Crestview doctor whose parents both died of smoking-related illnesses, says lawmakers must make it a priority. “I spent 35 years almost talking to people about not smoking and not smoking and not smoking. And I’ve had the experience of stopping people smoking after they’ve had one tumor removed from their lung only to begin smoking again and have another tumor kill them in their other lung. This is probably the most important project and the most important issue we’ll address this year.

Several students attended the rally. Eliana Torres’ father is a smoker who has tried unsuccessfully to quit, and she doesn’t want her friends falling in the same trap. “Youth that smoke when they’re very young become smokers for their whole life. We want to stop that. We want to help them stop smoking.”

Statistics show if current trends continue, as many as 369-thousand young people in Florida will start smoking this year and eventually die of smoking-related illnesses.

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