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Attorney General tackles coal ash, cigarettes, & more

Attorney General Josh Stein is urging the FDA to ban menthol cigarettes to keep people from getting addicted.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein leads the Department of Justice in its mission to protect the people of North Carolina. That includes protection from scammers, opioids, and criminal justice offenders. 

His department's latest missions include trying to protect people from being addicted to nicotine and from becoming victims of data breaches. 

He joined Tanya Rivera on WFMY News 2 at 5:30 to discuss some of the initiatives and to answer viewer questions. 

Stein has said menthol cigarettes are designed to be easier to smoke which makes it easier to get hooked. He also says they're marketed in ways that disproportionately harm young people and people of color. So he's urging the U.S.Food and Drug Administration to ban menthol cigarettes and help prevent another generation of North Carolinians from becoming addicted to nicotine.

On the topic of coal ash, Stein announced that he, the Public Staff of the North Carolina Utilities Commission, and the Sierra Club, have entered into a settlement with Duke Energy about paying for coal ash cleanup. His office says it will save North Carolina electricity customers more than $1 billion on their utility bills between now and 2030. He called the settlement a win for every Duke Energy customer. Stein acknowledged that consumers will be expected to shoulder the $3 billion that Duke is not covering. 

The Attorney General's office also says since North Carolinians spent more time online than ever before in 2020, they also saw more data breaches than ever before. In the Department of Justice’s 2020 data breach report, a record 1,644 data breaches were reported to the department last year. Attorney General Stein also shared a one-page guide to help North Carolinians secure their data and protect their privacy online. They found hacking incidents led to 2/3 of all the breaches and ransomware attacks made up nearly a quarter of all the data breaches. In an improvement from 2019, email breaches made up nearly 40 percent of all breaches in 2020. That was about a 10 percent drop from 2019.