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Smoking Qutiline Shows Success, Concern Raised Elsewhere
Written by Bruce Ferrell   
Friday, 20 November 2015 08:35

RALEIGH  – Supporters of smoking cessation efforts, including Governor Pat McCory, are pointing to the success of the state’s “Quitline” which is marking a 10th anniversary. But some advocates are saying more needs to be done, pointing to cuts in funding to programs designed to keep teens from lighting up.

In a press release, McCrory congratulated the people behind North Carolina’s QuitlineNC for 10 years of helping North Carolina citizens quit smoking and other forms of tobacco use. QuitlineNC is administered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and is a free service through the Division of Public Health.

“Helping people quit tobacco saves money for the smoker, the health care system, employers and the state," Governor McCrory said. “More importantly, it improves a person’s health and quality of life which not only benefits them, but their entire family.”

The State Health Plan, which serves North Carolina state employees, found it saved $3.96 in reduced healthcare costs for every dollar spent to provide QuitlineNC services.

“Since its launch in 2005, QuitlineNC has provided services to more than 100,000 North Carolina tobacco users,” said Ruth Petersen, M.D., chief of the Chronic Disease and Injury Section within the Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health. “Smoking remains the number one preventable cause of death in North Carolina."

But, advocates of reducing smoking say the issue has not received support in other ways by lawmakers. They point to the slicing of funding for programs, such as TRU, Truth Reality Unfiltered, and others targeted at teen smoking cessation. Money for those program came from the so called “Master Settlement” with tobacco companies designed to repay the costs from the health effects of tobacco products.

According to statistics from the North Carolina Alliance for Health, those programs contributed to a decline in tobacco use among high school students throughout the early 2000s, from 38.3 percent in 2000 to 25.8 percent in 2009.

The Health and Wellness Trust Fund, which processed the settlement money, directed $17 million for tobacco use and cessation programs out of the about $137.5 million the state received from the settlement, according to the Alliance. That was eliminated in 2011.  The Alliance reports that teen tobacco use in North Carolina began to rise again, increasing almost 4 percent between 2011 and 2013.

“It is imperative for our youth to be educated on the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarette use. The prevention programs that were so effectively curbing teen tobacco use in North Carolina must be restored,” said Morgan Wittman Gramann Coalition Manager at the North Carolina Alliance for Health in a May editorial published by the News and Observer in Raleigh.

Health advocates are also raising concerns over so called “electronic cigarettes” or “vaping” which they argue also have health side effects and could be a gateway to tobacco use.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 November 2015 08:38


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