RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – It’s report card day for North Carolina and if you ask the American Lung Association – the state needs to go back to school.
The organization gave the state all failing grades for North Carolina’s efforts to prevent tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.
“I think it’s no secret that we’re not doing enough to prevent tobacco use in this state,” said Morgan Gramann, Executive Director, North Carolina Alliance for Health.
The Alliance partners with the American Lung Association. Gramann was not surprised to see North Carolina get the failing grades.
“We’re not doing enough,” she said. “We’re not investing enough.”
Every state was graded on five categories: funding to prevent tobacco use, smoke-free air, tobacco taxes, access to quitting services, and the minimum age to buy tobacco. In North Carolina, it’s 18. Five states have raised the age to 21.
One suggestion from the American Lung Association is to invest more in services like QuitlineNC.
“We do know that Quitline is underfunded,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, State Health Director. “One way to really take advantage of the resource we have and expand it to its full efficacy is fully funding that QuitlineNC.”
The American Lung Association also recommended North Carolina increase the state cigarette tax by a dollar a pack.
“When you increase the cigarette tax, obviously you make cigarettes more expensive,” said Gramann. “So, hopefully, people will choose not to buy them because they’re more expensive and they’ll choose to spend their money on healthier options.”
“Anytime we get an F on some kind of national survey or study, certainly it’s something we need to look at,” said Rep. Sarah Stevens, (R) House Speaker Pro Tem.
Stevens told CBS North Carolina state leaders will review the American Lung Association’s findings, including discussing how effective increasing the cigarette tax would be.
“Apparently, it hasn’t decreased smoking a lot,” she said. “Because we’ve raised cigarette taxes and did that, in fact, decrease (tobacco use)? Perhaps, we need to do much more of a state study.”
The US Department of Agriculture ranks North Carolina the top state for tobacco production nationally.
If you are interested, you can find out more about QuitlineNC here. The number for the hotline is 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON:
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