Voters wanted smoking addiction program — and it’s working

Voters wanted smoking addiction program — and it’s working

Florida voters have given lifelong smokers like Jack Ferrara new reason to breathe easy.

After nicotine patches, acupuncture and hypnosis failed him, the Hollywood retiree finally snuffed out his 58-year cigarette habit — thanks to a state-run program gaining notice for making big strides in stamping out nicotine addiction.

Since 2007, after a voter mandate assured funding for a statewide cessation effort, Tobacco Free Florida has helped 72,000 Floridians quit, saving $4.2 billion in personal health-care costs and changing the Sunshine State’s attitude toward smoking, state health officials say.

Palm Beach and Broward counties are among its star players.

By 2010, Palm Beach County‘s adult smoking rate plummeted by almost half, from 17.5 percent in 2007 to 9 percent, the lowest of any county in the state. Broward’s rate fell 24 percent during that time, from 18.1 to 13.7 percent, the seventh lowest, according to annual phone surveys of more than 35,000 Floridians conducted by the state Department of Health and overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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