A report from the U.S.Surgeon General suggests deep cuts in tobacco prevention programs nationwide since 2003 are to blame for more people picking up the habit.
Funding to anti-smoking programs in Nebraska was cut by 12% since 2010. It’s a big concern for Stacy Frelund, government relations director for the American Heart Association.
“It’s scary when you think about 600,000 middle school students that smoke cigarettes in the United States. That’s a lot. I think about students here and I know that it’s happening out there,” Frelund said. “How are we going to counter that? How are we going to get these kids to stop or prevent the kids who haven’t stated yet?”
Frelund is worried the decline in funding for prevention programs target teens will lead to more kids lighting up.
“We know that this program has been very effective over the years. We’ve (helped) thousands of people quit smoking. We have saved lives and our aim is always to try to save more lives. That’s what we’re about. We really want to prevent people from smoking,” Frelund said.
Nebraska spends less than $4-million a year on tobacco prevention and control while the CDC recommends spending more than $21-million.