RALEIGH, N.C. — A new report conducted by Congressional auditors tracks spending from the $206 billion settlement. At the time that deal was struck, most state officials said the goal was to recover the cost of treating sick smokers, but the report shows that is not happening.
The General Accounting Office found just a quarter of last year's tobacco settlement money was spent on smoking-related health programs. That number is even lower in North Carolina.
Last year, North Carolina received $174 million. The bulk of the settlement, $89 million, was spent on economic development for tobacco regions.
However, less than $7 million or about 5 percent of the money, went to health programs. The rest of the money, $78 million, went for general purposes like filling budget holes.
This year, North Carolina is expected to double its health spending, but based on percentages, it is still less than what other states are doing. The bulk of North Carolina's health money goes to the Health and Wellness Trust Fund as well a prescription drug plan for seniors.