Report: North Carolina fails to improve tobacco control

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A shocking new report from The American Lung Association shows North Carolina is falling behind on ways to prevent and improve tobacco use.

After the report was released Wednesday, experts are shifting the focus to lawmakers and local elected officials as the state continues to lag behind the country for tobacco control.

The 22nd Annual State of Tobacco Control report looks at state and federal policies on actions taken to eliminate tobacco use.

North Carolina received the following grades:

Grade D:

1. Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco

Grade F:

1. Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs

2. Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws

3. Level of State Tobacco Taxes

4. Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products

“We don’t see levels of funding for tobacco control where they should be so unfortunately that results in failing grades in our report year after year,” North Carolina’s American Lung Association Director of Advocacy Danna Thompson said.

According to the American Lung Association, tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in North Carolina, killing over 14,000 residents each year. Thompson said the tobacco companies bear some of the blame.

“The tobacco industry will do anything to protect their profits at the expense of North Carolinians, so we really need to push forward with our efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use,” Thompson said.

With healthcare costs due to smoking surpassing $3 billion and the rising numbers of teens beginning to use tobacco, calls for changes to be made in the industry are sounding off.

The American Lung Association says due to the Medicaid Expansion last year, up to 600,000 residents have coverage for treatment to end tobacco use, however, experts said that more still needs to be done.