Don’t cut funding for youth tobacco prevention

Published 12:08 am Friday, December 23, 2011

To the Editor:

I am writing with concerns about youth tobacco-prevention funding being cut. I smoked as a teenager because it was considered “cool.” Thankfully, I quit within two years and it was never a problem. My husband started smoking as a young teenager, and it took 45 years, three heart attacks and a painful heart bypass surgery before he was able to quit smoking three packs a day.

I am so thankful that he has had three years of a smoke-free existence and I have had three years of not breathing second-hand smoke. This has been a very difficult change in his lifestyle, and he has suffered greatly in breaking this addiction. I am so proud of him and am so thankful for answered prayer.

I say all of this to emphasize the importance of preventing our youth from starting an addiction that will impact their health and their lives in the most negative way. We all know the life-threatening health issues that tobacco causes. Preventing youth from starting tobacco addictions can only be done through education, and funding for this is a must.

If youth tobacco prevention funding is eliminated, we face an estimated 2.8 percent increase in youth smoking rates and untold heartaches for these youth and their future families. In addition, the future health-care expenses in North Carolina are projected to reach $306.2 million.

Some facts from the Tobacco Free Kids Campaign that need to be shared are:

  • More North Carolina children growing up to become addicted adult smokers: 17,500;
  • More North Carolina children growing up to die prematurely from smoking: 5,600;
  • North Carolina’s Medicaid program’s increased health-care spending: $32.4 million.

The aforementioned facts come from the North Carolina Youth Smoking Impacts from Eliminating State Tobacco Prevention Funding report.

Our state is fortunate to have an outstanding youth tobacco prevention campaign, Tobacco Reality Unfiltered. TRU is educating young people and changing their lives. For more information about TRU, visit We truly need continued funding for this program. Funding is scheduled to end after June 30, 2012.

BCS Child Nutrition Manager
BCS Health Advisory Council Member