January 20, 2001

The Department of Health, Division of Health Awareness and Tobacco Control continues its statewide campaign to educate Florida Hispanics about the harmful effects of second hand smoke on the health of their families.

This year the Department of Health will sponsor a booth at Fiesta Pueblo Latino where information will be distributed to the public on the effects of second hand smoke on children and adults.

The Department of Health sponsored several festivals last year such as: the Hispanic Heritage Folk Festival 2000, on Saturday, October 14th in Jacksonville, Festival of the Americas, on Sunday, October 22nd in Miami, and Fiesta Gigante on Sunday, December 3rd in Tampa.

"The festivals allow the Department of Health to reach the community with important health information, such as the damaging effects second hand smoke has on the health of children," said Frank Penela, Director of Communications for the Department of Health.

The grassroots campaign includes the distribution of Spanish-language brochures and posters to Hispanic health clinics in Miami, Orlando and Tampa. The brochures contain information on the dangers of second hand smoke and on smoking cessation programs.

According to a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, parents who smoke contribute to 6,200 preventable children's deaths a year. Of these preventable deaths, 2,800 deaths a year are attributable to low birth weight caused by mothers who smoke during pregnancy. The researchers also attributed 2,000 deaths a year to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) caused by second-hand smoke; 1,100 deaths a year caused by respiratory infections; 250 deaths annually caused by fires started by cigarettes or matches; and another 14 deaths due to asthma.

The second hand smoke campaign has also released two radio spots "Counting" and "Protection," which remind parents to protect their children from second hand smoke.

In January 2001, two TV commercials targeting Hispanics began airing, which depict parents smoking around their children without thinking about the impact second hand smoke.

The Florida Department of Health, Division of Health Awareness and Tobacco was formed from the state's $11.3 billion settlement with the tobacco industry. The purpose of the Division of Health Awareness and Tobacco is to develop programs and services for the residents of the state of Florida that aim to provide tobacco prevention and awareness for Florida's youth, adults and concerned citizens.

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