1. Keep the current fully-funded tobacco prevention program and smokefree air laws strong;
2. Raise the state tobacco tax currently at .44 per pack; and
3. Raise the age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 years old.
There was no state legislative session in North Dakota during 2016, and therefore funding for the state tobacco control program remained the same for fiscal year 2017 at close to $10 million per year. When federal funding is included, North Dakota is one of only two states in the country that currently funds its state tobacco control program at the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
North Dakota has the fourth lowest cigarette tax in the country at 44 cents per pack. The tax has not been raised since 1993. After multiple attempts to get the tax increased during legislative sessions; advocates, including the American Lung Association in North Dakota, attempted to increase this abysmally low tax rate by activating over 150 volunteers to collect over 22,000 signatures to put an initiative on the November 2016 ballot to increase the cigarette tax by $1.76 per pack. The Raise it for Health Coalition representing over 30 partners from across the state, worked to educate voters on this important initiative. The tobacco industry including both Altria and RJ Reynolds poured over $3.7 million dollars to fight the initiative with misleading ads. Ultimately, the initiative was defeated.
The American Lung Association in North Dakota will continue its work in 2017 to educate both state and local decision makers about the benefits of a higher tobacco tax, increasing the sales age for tobacco products to 21 and keeping the current comprehensive tobacco control program fully-funded.