Cancer Advocates and Concerned Parents Urge Legislature to Reverse Today’s Youth Tobacco Epidemic

By Increasing Funding for State’s Severely Underfunded Youth Tobacco Prevention Programs

June 15, 2021

RALEIGH, NC – June 15, 2021 – Alongside the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), cancer survivors, concerned parents and more are asking state lawmakers to appropriately fund the state’s severely underfunded youth tobacco prevention programs – and alter the state’s course of youth tobacco use.

In 2021, North Carolina dedicated a mere 1.9% of the amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to tobacco prevention and cessation programs, ranking 44th among all 50 states and D.C. for its investment. North Carolina ranks above the national average for youth e-cigarette use,with more than 35% of high school students currently using e-cigarettes.

“As the tobacco industry continues to evolve, the need for adequate funding for our state’s tobacco prevention programs has never been greater,” shared Derwin Montgomery, ACS CAN North Carolina Government Relations Director. “Our investment in the health of our youth should be proportional to the massive toll tobacco products take on North Carolina families, our community and our economy.”

For decades, generations of U.S. Surgeon Generals and other leading public health experts have advocated for sustained and well-funded tobacco prevention programs. Research continually shows they are one of the most effective ways to keep youth from starting to use tobacco.

Thankfully, a proposed bill in the legislature, the End Youth Nictoine Dependance Act, would allocate would allocate $17 million of the state’s $140 million in annual tobacco settlement payments to youth tobacco prevention and education programs.

“Lawmakers’ commitment to protecting the health of the next generation this session – and in the years to come – will be critical in reducing smoking rates, saving thousands of young lives from tobacco use and ending our state’s tobacco epidemic,” added Montgomery. “We must act now to ensure that evidence-based tobacco control programs are funded to protect the next generation from a lifetime of addiction.”

Unfortunately, after years of decline, there’s been sharp increases in youth tobacco use nationwide in recent years, largely due to skyrocketing rates of e-cigarette use.  At the same time, progress on previously declining youth use of other tobacco products, including cigarettes and cigars, stalled.  If nothing is done to reduce tobacco use in our state an estimated 180,000 kids now under 18 in North Carolina will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. 

For more on the state’s tobacco prevention and cessation program spending and Big Tobacco’s marketing, click here.


About ACS CAN at 20 
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that saves lives. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and made workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. As we mark our 20th anniversary, we’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers and save more lives from cancer. Join the fight by visiting

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