New Report: Ballot Measure 3 Will Reduce Smoking, Save Lives and Save Money in North Dakota

Initiative Would Save 2,380 Lives, Secure $113 Million in Health Care Savings

Sep. 23 2008

Washington, D.C. — Ballot Measure 3, which would increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs in North Dakota, would not only reduce smoking and save lives but also save money and strengthen the state's economy, finds a report released today by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The report, titled "Measure 3: Comprehensive Tobacco Prevention and Cessation for North Dakota," finds that the passage of Measure 3 would:

  • reduce youth smoking by 12.7 percent and prevent 4,570 North Dakota kids from becoming addicted smokers;
  • prompt more than 3,500 adult smokers to quit;
  • save more than 2,380 North Dakotans from dying prematurely from smoking; and
  • produce $113 million in future health care savings.

North Dakota has been receiving about $40 million a year in tobacco-generated revenues from the 1998 state tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but currently spends only $3.1 million a year in state funds on programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. The state's current spending on these programs is less than a third of the $9.3 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and less than one-tenth of the total tobacco-related revenues the state has been getting each year.

Thanks to a special "bonus payment" provision in North Dakota's original tobacco settlement, the cigarette companies' settlement payments have just increased by about $15 million per year. Measure 3, which will be on the November 4 ballot, would ensure these new bonus payments will be allocated to the state's tobacco prevention program to bring its funding up to the CDC recommended level.

"Measure 3 will ensure that North Dakota keeps the promise of the tobacco settlement to protect kids from tobacco addiction and reduce tobacco's enormous health and financial toll on the state," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "This report provides powerful evidence that Measure 3 is truly a win-win solution for North Dakota's health and economy. By preventing and reducing smoking and other tobacco use, Measure 3 would not only improve health and save lives, but also save money and strengthen the economy."

Tobacco use kills more than 900 North Dakota residents every year and costs the state $247 million just in annual health care costs. State productivity losses from smoking total an additional $190 million per year, not even counting the productivity declines from smokers being sick more often than other workers and taking cigarette breaks while on the job. One in five adults in North Dakota smoke, a rate that has basically remained unchanged for a more than a decade. More than 21 percent of high school students still smoke, and 20 percent of high school males use spit tobacco. The North Dakota youth tobacco use rates are all higher than the rates nationwide.

 

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