Tobacco Reality Unfiltered program under threat

My name is Tiffany Jones and I am a high school junior in the area. On March 21, I attended and helped facilitate an event at the downtown YMCA to celebrate Kick Butts Day, an event dedicated to helping community members stop smoking, and for those who do not smoke, congratulating them on living a healthy lifestyle. This community gathering consisted of interactive activities such as a pledge wall, guessing games, a postcard and Facebook station and even ex-smokers who were [there] to counsel those currently struggling with an addiction to smoking.

As an anti-tobacco advocate, the idea seems easier said than done, but if we want a community that is tobacco free, our first priority should be prevention. Did you know that 90 percent of adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18? Since the Tobacco Reality Unfiltered movement started in 2003, 53,000 fewer teens have started smoking. TRU, an organization dedicated to funding the tobacco prevention effort in North Carolina, is also partially credited with the current all-time low high school and middle school smoking rates.

On June 30, TRU funding is scheduled to be eliminated. Without that funding, events like Kick Butts Day will be no more, and any [ongoing] measure in North Carolina for preventing youth smoking rates will no longer exist.

— Tiffany Jones

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