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S.D. Tobacco Network Marks 10th Anniversary

January 14, 2008

Rapid City, SD – The South Dakota Tobacco Free Kids Network celebrates its 10th anniversary this month. It began in 1998 with a coalition of 18 groups, including law enforcement, healthcare professionals, educators, parents and youth groups.

Today, it's grown to represent 50 organizations, and Dr. Allen Nord chairs the Network. He notes that two of its biggest accomplishments have been the passage of South Dakota's clean indoor air law in 2002 and voter approval of a $1 per pack cigarette tax increase. Now, the group hopes to restore the rights of local communities to pass their own tobacco restrictions that can exceed state law.

"About 1995, at the very strong request of the tobacco industry, the South Dakota Legislature passed what's known as a 'preemption law.' It preempted communities and counties from passing any laws on tobacco, so now, our state legislature has the only authority. What we're asking the legislature to do is to return that exclusive authority back to the local communities, and let them make the choice."

Nord believes public support of the tobacco tax demonstrated a desire to address the tobacco problem, and he adds much of that tax revenue goes directly to programs that fight tobacco addiction.

"The important part of that is the first $5 million (of that tax money) is dedicated to tobacco prevention and cessation programs. That has allowed the South Dakota Department of Health to really branch out their efforts in tobacco prevention."

For more information about the South Dakota Tobacco Free Kids Network, visit its Web site:

David Law/John Robinson, Public News Service - SD