These monies were given to the state as a part of the master settlement agreement with tobacco companies.
The loss of funding would have affected three employees here in Mecklenburg County but thanks to the state Department of Health and Human Services, those programs will continue for one more year. In addition to the three staff, over 300 students in Mecklenburg County will continue to be a part of TRU clubs (Tobacco Reality Unfiltered) at their schools. TRU Clubs are dedicated to helping stamp out tobacco use. Studies show that if we can delay tobacco use initiation past age 21, we really reduce the number of smokers.
“I’m so happy TRU gets to stay! This means another year of efforts to get more teens and adults aware of the harm that cigarettes cause,” said Gloria Pisarskiy, a junior at Rocky River High School.
“These funds will help us keep NC’s tobacco use rates at an all-time low,” says Sarah Moore, Teen Tobacco prevention coordinator. Without funding, tobacco prevention experts fear that the rates will go back up.
The record is clear. Since the initiation of TRU and other prevention programs, tobacco use among teens in NC has decreased. Since 2003, when the HWTF began funding teen tobacco use prevention and cessation efforts (including local programs and the highly-effective TRU media campaign), the middle school smoking rate in North Carolina was cut by more than half (from 9.3% to 4.3%), and the high school smoking rate dropped by a third (from 27.3% to 16.7%). Tobacco prevention efforts at the college level will also continue.
Here in Mecklenburg County, the Youth Tobacco Survey shows that there has also been a decrease in the percent of students smoking cigarettes. 8.6% of all students indicate that they smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days (compared to 9.9% in 2008 and 12.7% in 2006). The survey does show that there has been a slight increase in the percentage of youth smoking cigars and for those using any tobacco product.
The full survey results can be viewed at http://www.preventionservices.org/survey.php.
For more information, contact Sarah Moore, Sarah.B.Moore@carolinashealthcare.org