Ted Files Milestone Public Health Initiative

Tallahassee, FL – Seeking to dramatically improve both Florida’s healthcare system and the state’s financial outlook, Senator Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) today filed legislation that will make Florida the nation’s leader in fighting cancer.

Senate Bill 1840 is intended to curb smoking and reduce the incidence of tobacco-related illnesses by levying a dollar a pack increase in the state’s cigarette tax. Currently at 33.9 cents per pack, Florida’s tax is the 6th lowest in the nation.

The increased revenue – estimated at more than half a billion dollars annually – will in turn prime the pump of the state’s lagging economy by investing the proceeds generated by the tax increase in biomedical research including cancer research and related infrastructure projects.

“This is first and foremost a public health bill,” said Deutch. “Yet it also provides us an opportunity to leverage Florida’s growing biotech sector to make Florida a national leader in fighting the diseases directly related to the use of tobacco.  These clean, high-wage jobs are what Florida needs right now.”

While the Boca Raton senator’s primary objective is to persuade more Floridians to “kick the habit” and deter others from starting, he acknowledged the Legislature’s growing interest in effectively targeting the revenue generated from this landmark legislation in light of the state’s dire fiscal straits.

“Economists have estimated that a dollar increase in the cigarette tax would generate more than $600 million in net revenue, even after the recent federal cigarette tax hike of 61.6-cents” Deutch said. “This money can and should help save lives by protecting the Medically Needy and the Medicaid Aged and Disabled Programs while giving the Legislature an excellent opportunity to provide critically needed funding for our state’s challenged medical capacity and healthcare infrastructure.”

Deutch announced his action today on the steps of the Old Capitol. He was joined by 500 volunteers from the American Cancer Society.  The American Cancer Society and other leading health organizations back the senator’s proposal, citing the likelihood of significant reductions in adult smokers, and even greater prevention results by deterring kids from tobacco use.

Dr. Michael Kasper, a Boca Raton oncologist applauded Deutch’s efforts. “Tobacco use causes nearly one-third of all cancer deaths,” Kasper said.  “This bill would prevent so many of these deaths that are completely unnecessary.”


Ted Asks Governor to Examine Port Canaveral Deal with Largest Gasoline Importer to Iran

Boca Raton, Fl- State Senator Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) is calling upon Governor Charlie Crist to examine the details of a $100 million fuel terminal being constructed at Port Canaveral by European oil company Vitol.  Vitol supplies approximately 60% of the refined oil products imported by Iran. With many high ranking U.S. officials calling for a ban on refined petroleum imports to Iran, Florida has the opportunity to take the lead in persuading the Iranian government to stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“In light of Florida’s recent efforts to divest its holdings from any company investing in Iran’s energy sector, we cannot ignore this opportunity to put economic pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear weapons program,” said Sen. Deutch.

Deutch has asked Governor Crist to meet with Vitol to determine whether any federal, state or local tax dollars are in any way supporting this deal.  “Vitol must understand that the state of Florida is committed to preserving international security, and we expect them to support our efforts,” Deutch said.

In 2007, Senator Deutch sponsored “The Protecting Florida’s Investment’s Act,” making Florida the first state to divest its pension funds from any company doing business with the government of Sudan or the energy sector of Iran.  Since its passage, Florida has divested over $1 billion of holdings from companies which chose to put profit ahead of international security.

“We must express to Vitol in no uncertain terms that the citizens of our state understand the threat of a nuclear Iran,” wrote Deutch.  “And they must know that while we welcome their investment, we expect Vitol to join our state’s commitment to preserving international security by aiding the effort that Florida has already begun.  Vitol need not wait for Congressional action to stop exporting gasoline to Iran, not when we are able to raise this vital issue as Vitol raises its fuel terminal on Florida soil.”