North Dakota Fully Funds Tobacco Prevention
North Dakota voters on Tuesday delivered a victory for the state's kids and health by approving Measure 3, a state ballot initiative that will reduce smoking, save lives and lower health care costs by increasing funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
Measure 3 will ensure that North Dakota keeps the promise of the 1998 state tobacco settlement to protect kids from tobacco addiction and reduce tobacco's enormous health and financial toll on the state. It will use new funds provided under the original settlement to create a comprehensive statewide program to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. The program will be funded at levels recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) utilizing revenue North Dakota is receiving under a special "bonus payment" provision in the tobacco settlement. No taxpayer money will be used to fund the new program.
North Dakota has been receiving about $40 million a year in tobacco-generated revenues from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but currently spends only $3.1 million a year in state funds on programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. Measure 3 will increase North Dakota's investment to the $9.3 million recommended by the CDC.
A report issued by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in September found that Measure 3 would:
· Reduce youth smoking by 12.7 percent and prevent 4,570 North Dakota kids from becoming addicted smokers;
· Prompt more than 3,500 adult smokers to quit;
· Save more than 2,380 North Dakotans from dying prematurely from smoking; and
· Produce $113 million in future health care savings.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in North Dakota, killing more than 900 adults each year and costing the state $247 million in annual health care bills. Each year, 800 North Dakota kids become new, regular smokers, and 11,000 North Dakota kids alive today will ultimately die from smoking.