Legislature Presses on with $0 Funding for Youth Tobacco Prevention Despite Budget Surplus

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Calls on House Lawmakers to Protect North Carolina Youth in the Midst of Today’s Youth Tobacco Epidemic

June 29, 2021

RALEIGH, NC  – June 29, 2021 – Last week, Senate lawmakers passed their final version of the budget – dedicating zero funding for the state’s tobacco prevention programs amid skyrocketing youth tobacco use.

“Our kids are worth more than zero,” said Derwin Montgomery, ACS CAN Government Relations Director in North Carolina. “With our state budget in surplus and an estimated $140 million collected from the tobacco industry annually, offering no support to prevent our kids from starting to use tobacco is shocking and downright dangerous. Failing to include such funding will cost our state more financially in the long-term and result in thousands of preventable deaths.”

When well-funded, evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs have been proven to prevent youth from starting to use tobacco products and help those addicted quit. North Carolina’s dangerously low funding levels continue to place the state economy and youth in jeopardy.

The CDC recommends that North Carolina spend $99.3 million annually on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Most recently, the state dedicated a mere 1.9% of CDC recommended levels.

“We urge House lawmakers to take up where the Senate fell short by passing the End Youth Nicotine Dependence Act to ensure proper protections for North Carolina youth. This would dedicate $17 million out of the approximately $140 million North Carolina receives from Master Settlement Agreement payments from the tobacco industry each year to tobacco control programs,” added Montgomery.

Over 35% of North Carolina’s high school students use e-cigarettes. A well-funded evidenced-based tobacco control program is needed to counteract the roughly $383 million that Big Tobacco spends each year in North Carolina to market their deadly and addictive products.

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and costs the state and taxpayers roughly $3.8 billion in annual health care costs.

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