North Carolina Legislators Slash Funds that Protect Kids from Tobacco
Cuts Jeopardize Efforts to Improve Health, Reduce Costs
Posted by: Editor | Jun 29, 2012
North Carolina legislators have let down kids and taxpayers with a budget that drastically cuts funding for the state's very successful tobacco prevention and cessation programs. This budget will lead to more kids becoming addicted to tobacco, fewer tobacco users getting the help they need to quit, more lives lost and North Carolina taxpayers paying the bill for higher tobacco-caused health care costs.
The legislature's budget includes only $2.7 million in non-recurring federal funds for smoking prevention programs — down from $17.3 million in state funding from the previous year's budget. And North Carolina will no longer contribute any of its own funds to protect citizens from tobacco.
This drastically reduced funding for the tobacco prevention programs means 12,990 more kids in North Carolina will become addicted adult smokers. This will result in 4,670 premature smoking-related deaths, and cost taxpayers $227.3 million in increased health care spending by the state government.
In North Carolina, 15.5 percent of high school students smoke, and 19.8 percent of adults currently smoke. About 11,100 kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 12,200 lives and costs the state $2.46 billion in health care bills.
North Carolina will save a few million dollars in the short term, but pay far more than that in health care for years to come with more people suffering from heart disease, cancer, emphysema and other tobacco-related illnesses. This is a win for the tobacco industry and a loss for North Carolina residents.