Budget cuts to tobacco prevention stirs controversy
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RALEIGH -- It's a tough time of year for this mother and son.
"He still has a dad. He's just not on earth anymore," said Kristy Andrews.
With Father's Day on the horizon, Kristy Andrews and her four-year-old son Jeffrey will face another hard holiday after her husband died of lung cancer a year and a half ago.
"Reliving the most devastating days of my life is not something I look forward to doing," said Andrews.
Justin died at the young age of 30. He started smoking at just 14-years-old.
Before his passing Justin turned his attention to prevention. He's still the face of commercials from the Tobacco Reality Unfiltered Campaign, a statewide effort to keep others from following his footsteps.
“After his passing I carried on his story and have now reached over 10,000 students,” added Andrews.
From high schools to the General Assembly, she's dedicated to keeping budget cuts from eliminating the awareness campaigns she calls essential.
“Please don't give up on us who try so hard everyday to help save a life from the devastation of tobacco,” Andrews said.
Health advocates say without the more than $17 Million requested for prevention measures, 15,000 more North Carolina students could be at risk for becoming addicted adult smokers.
"Please don't give up on our next generation. We need the funding," said Andrews.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services teen smoking dropped to a historic low last month at 15.5 percent for high school students. They credit statewide prevention programs for the drop in rates.