Despite huge strides over the past few decades, use of online cigarettes continues to be the nation's leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death — and not just for smokers. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, some 450,000 Americans die from cigarettes store use each year, with about 50,000 of those deaths attributable to secondhand smoke cigarettes exposure.

The fight to protect all Floridians from asthma, lung cancer, heart disease and other health effects of discount cigarette online is gaining momentum. Orange County is at the epicenter of that movement, with the "all in" project leading the way. The strong support from business, health, education and community groups is helping the project in championing efforts to expand tobacco-free places in our community.

Efforts of this magnitude are not enough. Unfair language inserted into state statutes stands in the way. Florida law pre-empts the regulation of smoking cigarettes to the state government, tying the hands of cities and counties that wish to enact stricter smoking cigarettes policies. Shouldn't our locally elected officials be able to respond to their constituents' desires for more pro-health policies?

Many communities in Orange County think so. Apopka, Belle Isle, Eatonville, Ocoee, Oakland and Orlando recently passed resolutions calling for the restoration of home rule, and the Orange County Commission approved the resolution on Tuesday. Our local state legislators should take heed of this movement and lead the charge to repeal the unfair pre-emption law during the 2012 legislative session.

The time has come to deal with the facts on how tobacco-free places impact our local economy. A recent study by University of Illinois economists found Florida's 2003 ban on workplace smoking cigarettes actually boosted restaurant sales and did not affect other businesses. Smoke-free policies also produce dramatic increases in workplace productivity and decreases in employer health-care costs.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each worker who smokes costs an employer an additional $3,391 per year in lost productivity and excess medical expenditures. Tobacco-free policies do not hinder businesses but in fact provide substantial benefits.

Let's not forget there are lives at stake. In Orange County, more than half our children are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke. Recognizing the importance of ensuring a healthy environment for their students, Orange County Public Schools will make all campus properties tobacco-free this January. Valencia College and the University of Central Florida will become smoke-free next fall.

Those three community efforts alone will protect nearly 300,000 students from secondhand smoke cigarettes while they are at school. But many Orange County residents still face daily risks. Take, for example, bar employees. As in so many other states, shouldn't they have the right to work in a smoke-free environment? And shouldn't parks and other public outdoor venues, especially those likely to have children present, be smoke-free as well?

Local governments should be afforded the opportunity to protect community health as their citizens have requested. An independent survey conducted for the "all in" project in May found that a majority of Orange County's registered voters support making our bars, parks, schools and colleges tobacco-free.

As a former U.S. surgeon general, I am honored to chair the "all in" project's volunteer board. The broad support for this initiative is evidenced by the range of community leaders who serve with me, including representatives of the American Cancer Society, Orange County Healthy Start Coalition, University of Central Florida, Orlando Magic, Community Foundation of Central Florida, Walt Disney World, Orlando City Council, American Heart Association, Orlando Health, Winter Park Health Foundation, and Rosen Hotels and Resorts.

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