Local News

Experts Claim State Not Doing Enough To Curb Teen Smoking

Posted March 25, 2002

— Almost one in three high school students smoke in North Carolina. Millions of dollars from a national tobacco settlement is available to spend on efforts to curb smoking, but some said that money is not being used.

Many people believe the settlement signed by 46 states and the major tobacco companies would pour money into convincing people to quit smoking. However, it is up to each state to decide how to spend its share.

"It really varies state to state. Some of the states have done a really good job allocating a lot of their settlement dollars to tobacco control issues, helping teens quit and adults," Sarah Cox of the Health Action Council said.

In North Carolina, the money is being divided into three parts. Fifty percent goes to communities that depend on tobbaco. The rest is split between the farm industry and health issues.

"We have some of the worst health indicators in the nation related to tobacco use here in North Carolina," Cox said.

However, the committee in charge of handing out the money for health issues has not handed out a dime yet. Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue chairs that committee and plans to hold town meetings on teen tobacco use this spring.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates North Carolina needs to spend $42 million a year on campaigns to reduce smoking, but the committee plans to spend most of its money on prescription drugs for the elderly leaving only $5 million for anti-smoking campaigns each year.

"Well, honestly, we would always like to see the full amount of what the CDC said the best pratices should be funded at, but at the same time North Carolina has never had funding at the state level, and we are really excited that the state has been willing to work with us on this," Cox said.

Perdue said she is absolutely committed to funding programs aimed at preventing teen smoking.

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