Submitted by Cacky Catlett on Thu, 02/16/2012 - 9:28pm.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- More than 300 young people gathered at the North Carolina Legislature to highlight successes in reducing teen smoking rates while health lobbyists urged lawmakers to provide a steady funding source again for prevention programs. The event organized by the North Carolina Alliance for Health brought together youth tobacco use prevention advocates statewide to the Legislative Building on Thursday. Legislators and health leaders praised teens for programs that have helped reduced student smoking rates since 2003. Health lobbyists attribute the drop to tobacco prevention programs funded by the Health and Wellness Trust Fund, which held a portion of North Carolina's share of the national tobacco settlement. Lawmakers eliminated the fund, and tobacco prevention and cessation programs received $17 million this year only. The alliance wants the money to continue. (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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