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Published March 19, 2011, 06:15 PM

GF Legislators Discuss Possible Loss of Tobbacco Prevention Funds

Some people in Grand Forks are worried about what a cut in tobacco prevention funds will do to educational efforts in the state. They spoke out against such cuts at a meeting with lawmakers.

"Measure three was passed by the voters and if we don't keep measure three intact for tobacco control were basically telling the voters they don't know what they are doing," said Doctor Eric Johnson.

Doctors and nurses pleaded for North Dakota legislators to not support Health Bill 1004. It will take away funds for tobacco prevention and give that money to other healthcare organizations.

"Quitline and Quitnet are not funded out of measure three but are funded out of the 80 percent that is looking at being removed from the Governors proposal," said Grand Forks County's Public Healths Theresa Knox.

The tobacco funding comes from 10 percent of a Master Settlement Agreement when North Dakota sued tobacco companies for tobacco health related costs.

"The point is the money came in order to reduce tobacco expenditures in the state. Senator Holmbergs comments were very re-assuring as in passed years we look to the senate to save ourselves," said Rep. Eliot Glassheim.

Senator Ray Holmberg believes there will not be 2/3s of the vote in the state senate to approve the re-allocation of tobacco prevention funds.

"But the attitude of the committee is that old saying "If you are going to poke a bee hive take some money out of it and if your just going to poke it around and get stung all over the place its not worth it, so I would be surprised if the senate would pass that other provision having to do with the 80 percent requirement," said Sen. Ray Holmberg.

If the tobacco prevention funds are cut, it could mean the loss of good smoking prevention programs.

"It is a difficult thing for anyone who smoked to quit. My husband has struggled with it for many many years, we have doctors that struggle with it where I work, and I know one of the doctors where I work recently told me that he has tried the Chant-ex they have tried all the other products out there but the counseling on Quitline was the only thing that helped," said Julie Ludwig.