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Report: North Dakota Tops Nation in Tobacco Use Prevention Programs

North Dakota tops the nation when it comes to funding tobacco-use prevention programs aimed at teens.(iStockphoto)
North Dakota tops the nation when it comes to funding tobacco-use prevention programs aimed at teens.(iStockphoto)
December 16, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. - For the third year in a row, North Dakota ranks number one in the nation for funding programs aimed at keeping youth from smoking.

According to a new report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, North Dakota is the only state in the nation that is spending the full amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since 2009, said John Schachter, spokesman for the campaign, the state has cut the number of high school student smokers almost in half.

"North Dakota is head and shoulders above other states in treating the issue of tobacco prevention and cessation seriously," he said. "The results that the state is getting seem to vindicate its decision."

The report, called "Broken Promises to Our Children," looked at how every state is spending its portion of a settlement with major tobacco companies over a 1998 lawsuit. Overall, the study shows that this year states will collect almost $26 billion from the settlement and tobacco taxes, but they will spend less than 2 percent of that on tobacco-use prevention programs.

Schachter credited a 2008 initiative passed by North Dakota voters, which, unlike many other states, requires that some of the settlement money go toward tobacco-use prevention programs.

"So the states that treat it seriously, and are seeing the results, really are a role model for other states," he said. "We don't know why other states aren't doing it. I guess they're being penny wise and pound foolish, not realizing that it's a smart investment."

The CDC recommended that North Dakota spend about $9.8 million on these programs, but the state actually spends more than that: $10 million. The report noted that smoking-related health-care costs in North Dakota come in at about $326 million every year.

The full report with North Dakota statistics are online at tobaccofreekids.org.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND