Breathless in North Dakota

| February 21, 2017
North Dakota photo

Photo by afiler

The US state of North Dakota (ND) is thinking of diverting tobacco lawsuit settlement money previously used for tobacco control policies to ‘other public programs’.

A February 20 story on KFYR-TV-Ch.5, out of Bismark, ND, said the state’s voters had helped form the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy, also known as Breathe ND, when they had voted to dedicate tobacco lawsuit settlement money to preventing future tobacco use. Now, some thought the group was no longer needed.

The Senate appropriations committee is sending a bill to the floor that would shutter the agency, after voting to give it $0 for the upcoming two years.

Cigarrette smoking by North Dakota high schoolers has declined by 24 percent since 2001, but a Breathe ND official said that the rate of decline had doubled since 2009, when anti-tobacco advertisements were introduced.

“What a shame for ND kids because they deserve to grow up in a tobacco free environment,” said Jeanne Prom, Breathe ND executive director. “They deserve to grow up to be tobacco free and we made it easier for them to do that.”

But Senator Ralph Kilzer argue that the Health Department had done half that work. He said having the department take over the job would more efficiently fund public health.

“Hopefully it’ll continue on the way down and then we’ll have the benefits of some other public programs that are badly needed,” said Kilzer.

But Prom said the job wasn’t being moved. Breathe ND was being shut down. The law that created the agency and the good work that it did was being repealed.

Breathe ND said a state trust fund could be used to fund the agency for seven years before additional money would be needed.

The bill is due to go before the full Senate. If it passes, it will be sent to the House and then to the governor’s desk.

Category: Breaking News

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