The HWTF (Health and Wellness Trust Fund) was established with Tobacco Settlement funds (not taxpayer dollars) and was intended to help states address the health and financial toll of tobacco. The North Carolina General Assembly established the HWTF to protect those funds and use them as intended for health purposes, and tobacco prevention and cessation in particular. Eliminating the Health and Wellness Trust Fund would be against the original purpose of the Master Settlement Agreement – leaving North Carolinians without access to tobacco prevention and cessation resources.
The HWTF supports prevention efforts like the TRU (Tobacco, Reality, Unfiltered) program at the Poe Center. Since 2003, when HWTF tobacco programs began:
- There are 53,000 fewer youth smokers
- The middle schoolsmoking rate in North Carolina has been cut by more than half since HWTF efforts began and the high school smoking rate has dropped by a third.
These are the lowest rates every recorded in our state’s history.