Funding for anti-tobacco programs that target teen populations gets critical cuts in North Carolina.
Mecklenburg County was one of the first to suffer from the cuts as state officials voted to decrease funds for the said campaigns. This move did not sit well for the advocates of teen anti-tobacco use.
Tobacco Reality Unfiltered (TRU) spokesperson and coming senior Caroline Debello is one of the most affected by the cuts. As a messenger for the TRU, Debello brings the message against teen smoking to kids her age. She gets paid for her services but after what has happened, she might not be able to continue and her plans to travel all over the state might be put on hold. “To stop that, I don’t know how you have the guts to do that,” Debello claimed. “I think it’s ridiculous.”
The budget of TRU in Raleigh decreased from $17.3 million to a measly $2.7 million.
Results of the budget cuts have cost the Mecklenburg County Health Department to lose three of their health educator positions and at least $300,000 in funding.
National and state officials were quick to defend their votes favoring budget cuts for anti-tobacco programs. They say smoking rates continue to drop, thus the money will be used to sustain other health programs such as the Medicaid.
State Rep. Craig Horn shared why he decided to allow the cuts. Horn said: “I think that we can reduce state spending in this specific area so that available funds can be reallocated.”
But for teens like Debello, the future of teen smoking is now uncertain as statistics could once again shoot up as initiatives against smoking are lessened. Debello shared: “It is disappointing. It’s awful and it’s heartbreaking that we can’t keep doing this to try and make a difference in the state.”