- Associated Press - Monday, May 15, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The head of North Dakota’s Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy said eliminating the agency could undo several years of work that marked a rapid decrease in youth and adult smoking rates in the state.

The agency, also known as BreatheND, is funded by a percentage of the state’s tobacco settlement fund, which is from a 1998 agreement between states and major tobacco companies.

“We are proving our outcomes, and that didn’t seem to matter,” said Jeanne Prom, the executive director of BreatheND.

The Legislature recently withdrew BreatheND’s funding and will move the settlement money to the North Dakota Department of Health budget in July, The Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/2qo8eVo ) reported.

Lawmakers said tobacco prevention programs are better situated in the state Health Department. Republican Rep. Al Carlson said the funds “should flow to one place.”

However, Prom argued that smaller issue-oriented agencies are better suited to fight tobacco use than a larger agency.

State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte said the department is working to ensure programs remain intact even with less funding.

“We know that, for the Department of Health to be successful, we’ll need the help of the local public health units,” Tufte said.

The new state tobacco prevention plan must be in place by July 31.

“We’re hopeful that we’re able to deliver,” Tufte said. “We have been given a challenge.”

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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