Highlights: North Carolina

The American Lung Association in North Carolina is committed to advancing tobacco control policies and educating communities on the risks of tobacco use and exposure. The Lung Association continues to identify opportunities to partner with tobacco control and public health advocates in North Carolina to advance and protect lifesaving measures to improve quality of life. In 2013, restoring state investment in tobacco prevention and control programs and defending against attempts to prevent local communities from passing stronger smokefree laws, were legislative priorities.

The Lung Association worked closely with public health partners, including the American Cancer Society-Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and the North Carolina Alliance for Health to urge the governor and general assembly to include a recurring state appropriation in the fiscal year 2014 budget for efforts to reduce tobacco use. As recently as 2011, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs were funded at $17.3 million, but state funding was completely eliminated in the fiscal year 2013 budget last year.

In the end, $1.2 million in recurring state funding was appropriated for the state quitline (Quitline NC), which helps residents in North Carolina quit smoking by phone. However, all funding to prevent tobacco use before it starts was completely eliminated. North Carolina had made incredible progress towards reducing youth smoking rates in recent years, but the lack of funding for tobacco prevention programs puts this progress in serious jeopardy.

Tobacco control partners also fought against Senate Bill 703 during the 2013 legislative session, which would have taken away the authority of local governments and community colleges to prohibit smoking on outdoor areas of their property. Currently, 35 out of 58 community colleges in North Carolina have adopted tobacco-free campus policies for their properties, so this bill would have voided all those policies. Thankfully, the bill died in a state Senate Committee, after tobacco control partners' rallied local opposition to the legislation. However, we will need to be vigilant to ensure that language from this measure is not added to another bill.

In 2014, the American Lung Association in North Carolina will continue to work with public health advocates and key leaders to address the severe cuts the state has seen to its tobacco control funding and will seek to identify new and existing revenue to bolster these lifesaving programs as well as continue to work with communities to protect current tobacco control laws.

North Carolina State Facts

Economic Cost Due to Smoking: $6,281,486,000
Adult Smoking Rate: 20.9%
High School Smoking Rate: 17.7%
Middle School Smoking Rate: 4.2%
Smoking Attributable Deaths: 12,264
Smoking Attributable Lung Cancer Deaths: 4,027
Smoking Attributable Respiratory Disease Deaths: 3,142

Adult smoking rate is taken from CDC's 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. High school smoking rate is taken from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System. Middle school smoking rate is taken from the 2011 Youth Tobacco Survey.

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