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Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in North Carolina. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by North Carolina's elected officials:

  1. Restore funding for tobacco use prevention and cessation programs, including QuitlineNC;
  2. Increase the state cigarette tax to the national average of $1.78 per pack; and
  3. Resist attempts to weaken the smokefree restaurants and bars law and expand the law to include all public places and private worksites.
There was good news for the state's tobacco use prevention and cessation programs in the 2018 session of the General Assembly. Advocates under the banner of the North Carolina Alliance for Health lead a successful campaign that increased state funding to over $2.8 million. While funding levels remain far from the $17.3 million the tobacco use prevention and cessation programs received in 2011 and before, these new dollars give a boost to QuitlineNC and youth prevention programs that are greatly challenged to meet the needs of a growing state with minimal resources. The American Lung Association in North Carolina is grateful that funding for these important programs is moving in a positive direction and urges this trend to continue.

The bad news is that in the final hours of budget negotiations, tobacco industry allies successfully attached a provision to the state budget reducing state tobacco taxes by 50 percent for any product included in a modified risk tobacco product order issued by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That was an unfortunate move for North Carolina. The state has the fifth lowest cigarette tax in the country at 45 cents per pack. The national average for state taxes is $1.78 per pack. Despite an increasing population with ever-increasing health needs, state leaders have repeatedly overlooked a tobacco tax increase as a source of funds to meet these challenges and reduce smoking rates. A move in the right direction would be to increase North Carolina's cigarette tax by a $1.00 or more per pack to reduce both youth and adult smoking rates.

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 seeks options for strengthening protections for nonsmokers. Price increases of $1.00 per pack or more have repeatedly been shown to reduce youth and adult smoking rates. The Lung Association in North Carolina, along with other partners, will also continue to advocate for increased funding for tobacco use prevention programs and for QuitlineNC

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