Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in North Dakota. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in North Dakota calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials.
- Raise the state tobacco tax currently among the nation's lowest at 44 cents per pack;
- Raise the age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 years old; and
- Replace the dollars taken from the fully-funded state tobacco control program.
The North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy was formed as a result of an initiated measure in 2008, requiring that a portion of the funds that the state received from the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement be dedicated to reducing tobacco use utilizing proven tobacco control strategies. During the 2017 Legislative session the Center was dismantled and tobacco control funding reduced, no longer meeting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's standard of a "fully funded" program.
The American Lung Association in North Dakota worked hard to educate decision makers on the results that had been achieved over the lifespan of the Center, including a dramatic reduction in youth tobacco use rates, smooth implementation and compliance with the statewide smokefree law, and school tobacco-free policies across the state. The Lung Association emphasized that a vote of the people is a strong statement of support and should be honored, including keeping the tobacco control program fully funded. The legislative action resulted in substantial cuts to the once fully funded program, along with administration of the program put under the state Department of Health.
The Lung Association has worked in raising the awareness of the toll of tobacco on those with mental illness and/or substance use disorders for several years, educating providers on the need to address tobacco use. One highlight of the 2017 legislative session was the Scope of Practice for licensed addiction counselors in North Dakota being expanded to include treatment for nicotine addiction. It is hoped this will result in more patients with mental illness or substance use disorders being asked about their tobacco use, advised to quit and assisted with such effort.
The American Lung Association in North Dakota will continue to educate both state and local decisions makers on the need to increase the price of tobacco products, the benefits of an increase, along with increasing the sales age for tobacco products to 21.