State Budget Cuts Programs from $17.2 Million to $2.7 Million
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
Efforts to help smokers kick the habit and to keep youth from ever lighting up will be vastly curtailed in North Carolina since lawmakers alloted only $2.7 million in the state budget for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
As the CAL had reported earlier this month, in prior years, $17.3 million had been earmarked for the fight against tobacco, including the nationally recognized TRU (Tobacco.Reality.Unfiltered) campaign. But after the Health and Wellness Trust Fund was eliminated, the House included $5.4 million in its spending plan and the Senate cut the funding altogether.
“While we understand this was a difficult budget year, an 85 percent cut to tobacco prevention and cessation programs will cost lives and jobs,” wrote Pam Seamans, executive director of the North Carolina Alliance for Health, in a press release. “North Carolina will most certainly see its youth smoking rate rise based on the experiences of other states which have cut tobacco control funding.”
She pointed out that lawmakers funded the $2.7 million for tobacco control programs with funds from the federal Social Services Block Grant and not from the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, funds that are specifically intended to help states deal with the health and financial toll of tobacco use. The Tar Heel state received $141 million in MSA dollars this year.
Read related story: Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Programs Cut from Senate Budget