1. Restore funding for tobacco use prevention and cessation programs, including QuitlineNC;
2. Resist attempts to weaken the smokefree restaurants and bars law and expand the law to include all public places and private worksites; and
3. Increase the state cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack.
Current funding for the state's tobacco use prevention and cessation program is perilously low. In 2011, tobacco use prevention and cessation programs jointly received $17.3 million. The 2016 remaining state funding for QuitlineNC, the state's phone counseling service for tobacco users, is $1.1 million. That is a very small amount of funding for a state as large as North Carolina. When federal funding is included, the amount is only 3.3 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended funding level for the state. As of March 2016, demand for QuitlineNC services became greater than resources available. The evidence-based services were cut back in some instances to avoid shutting down the Quitline before the end of the fiscal year. There are no state dollars allocated for teen tobacco use prevention, even though a majority of smokers begin smoking by age 18. This lack of funding directly impacts the state's ability to move towards a healthier future.
In 2016, the Legislature did allocate $250,000 in funding for You Quit, Two Quit, a program to screen and treat tobacco use in women of reproductive age, pregnant and postpartum mothers. It was a welcome recognition of the value of evidence-based cessation strategies by our elected officials. Sen. Stan Bingham sought funding to create a program within the Division of Public Health to provide evidence-based tools and information to pediatricians and family physicians to enable them to better counsel their young patients and the parents of those patients about the health risks of electronic cigarettes, cigarettes, and other tobacco products. Unfortunately, it did not make it through the budget process.
The American Lung Association in North Carolina will continue to partner with the North Carolina Alliance for Health as it defends against any threats or attempts to weaken the smokefree restaurants and bars law and weighs options for strengthening protections for nonsmokers. Emphasis will be placed on restoring funding for tobacco use prevention programs to previous levels and to increase funding for QuitlineNC.