• May 26, 2024

NC Juul Settlement to Fund Tobacco Control

 NC Juul Settlement to Fund Tobacco Control
Photo: Chicken Strip

For the first time since 2012, North Carolina’s state budget plan includes funds to help prevent young people from getting addicted to nicotine, reports NC Health News.

Much of that money comes from a $40 million settlement that State Attorney Josh Stein reached this summer with Juul Labs following a lawsuit over the e-cigarette maker’s alleged targeting of young people.

In 1998, North Carolina and 45 other states settled litigation with to recover healthcare cost incurred for treating sick smokers. The four largest U.S. tobacco companies agreed to pay $206 billion over 25 years, and part of that money was to be spent by the states on smoking-cessation programs.

In reality, however, many states have directed their Master Settlement Agreement funds to other priorities. In 2013, when Republicans held control of both the North Carolina General Assembly chambers and the governor’s office, money stopped flowing to programs targeted at young smokers and nicotine users.

The budget that Governor Roy Cooper signed into law on Nov. 18 transfers $2 million from the first $13 million allotment from the Juul settlement to the attorney general’s office to cover litigation costs.

Another $4.4 million will go to tobacco cessation media campaigns, resources and programs to help children in middle school, high school and young adults quit vaping and using tobacco products after becoming addicted.

The budget allocates $3.3 million for “evidence-based media and education campaigns” geared toward prevention of e-cigarette and tobacco use and $1.1 million for data monitoring to better understand how young people are exposed to such products and evaluate programs designed to help users quit.

Nationally, more than two million children in middle school and high school used e-cigarettes in 2021, according to North Carolina health director Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson. Almost half of those high school students used e-cigarettes frequently, for as many as 20 out of 30 days. In North Carolina, Tilson added, a third of people in that age group used tobacco products, most of which are e-cigarettes.