According to a recent report released by top public health organizations, NC spends just 16.2% of the $106.8 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on programs to prevent youth from using tobacco and to help current smokers quit. The Health and Wellness Trust Fund (HWTF), which was abolished by state lawmakers earlier this year, had been responsible for a large portion of NC’s tobacco use prevention and cessation efforts, helping to get our youth smoking rate down to its lowest level in state history. After its elimination, the NC Department of Health and Human Services received remaining HWTF funds ($17.3 million) to continue providing tobacco programs to NC citizens. But these funds will soon expire, and unless our state legislature elects to support tobacco prevention efforts in the future, we may lose some of our health gains as well.
The report, titled “A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 13 Years Later”, highlights the fact that NC spends just a fraction of our tobacco revenue on tobacco prevention programs – an abysmal 4 percent of $431 million. Of course this pales in comparison to the millions of dollars paid by tobacco companies to market their products in our state.
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the US. Let’s protect our children’s future by protecting them from the deadly effects of tobacco.
-Willona Stallings, PHW Program Coordinator
Partners in Health and Wholeness is an initiative of the NC Council of Churches. Please visit our website to view more resources on health and faith: www.healthandwholeness.org.