The Legislature has voted to de-fund the Tobacco Control and Prevention agency – also known as “Breathe ND.”
That agency’s tobacco prevention functions will be taken over by the state Health Department. Seven staffers and a temporary employee will lose their jobs – and one position will transfer to the Health Department.
The agency was created by initiated measure in 2008 – and receives its money from the lawsuit settlement states reached by the big tobacco companies.
The Senate already voted to defund “Breathe ND.” And the House has now followed suit.
Rep. Jon Nelson (R-Rugby) wanted to keep the agency intact. He told the House the agency has worked very effectively to cut the rate of smoking in North Dakota – especially among young people.
"I hate funerals," Nelson said. "Today we're here to eulogize the most effective state agency I've seen in my 20 years in the Legislature."
Rep. Chet Pollert (R-Carrington) chairs the Human Resources Division of the House Appropriations Committee. He told the House the Health Department is well equipped to pick up “Breathe ND’s” duties.
"People in the Department of Health are just as well educated and as well-versed on smoking and the cessation as they are with the tobacco advisory group," Pollert said.
The measure passed 63 to 29. It will now go to Gov. Doug Burgum for his signature.