Where has the time gone? We’re going to take a quick tour through commercial tobacco use prevention and cessation since 2019!
It feels like so long ago, but the pandemic has aged us in dog years. It was just back in 2019 that Attorney General Josh Stein announced that he was suing JUUL for marketing their products to youth. Y’all remember we got deposed, right? Good times… The settlement was announced last year at $40 million over 6 years.
Since 2011, NCAH has been working to restore funding for tobacco use prevention and cessation programs and services. While there have been smaller amounts of funding provided over the past few years, none of the funding has come close to the $17 million in recurring funds NCAH has requested. But with the State’s settlement of the JUUL lawsuit, the budget included $19 million over two years for tobacco use prevention and cessation programs.
That brings us to one of our favorite large (and reliable!) pots of money for commercial tobacco use prevention and cessation, the Master Settlement Agreement. The 2021 payment to North Carolina topped $167 million. That’s a lot of money that could—and should—be used in part to reduce tobacco use. In the last seven years, the MSA has put more than $1 billion into the State’s General Fund.
It’s also now been more than two years since Tobacco 21 was passed at the Federal level. That means it’s been more than two years since our state laws have aligned with and supported the Federal laws. It’s clear that isn’t a tenable situation, so hopefully 2022 will be the year our existing law is updated to ensure it aligns with Federal law and protects young people.
So we made it. 2022. Here is a quick review of our policy priorities:
- Promote policies that support the implementation of an effective Tobacco 21 law in North Carolina, including retailer licensing
- Promote increased and recurring appropriations for robust and evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs and services
- Promote policies that increase the price of tobacco products, and create price parity among tobacco products