A Senate subcommittee has asked for amendments that would restore Measure 3 and its stipulation that settlement dollars be spent on tobacco prevention. When the state Health Department’s budget came before the House, it was amended to allow tobacco settlement money, which in part goes to the Community Health Trust Fund, to be spent on programs outside of tobacco prevention and cessation.
That vote overturned Measure 3, which was approved by voters in 2008 and required 80 percent of the fund to be spend on tobacco programs.
The Health Department budget, known as House Bill 1004, is now in the Senate, and a subcommittee dealing with the bill is working to remove the House changes and uphold Measure 3 requirements.
“We have to live with it,” said subcommittee Chairman Sen. Ralph Kilzer, R-Bismarck. Upholding Measure 3 has consequences, however.
The House voted to fund various programs out of the Community Health Trust Fund, and those are now on the chopping block. Programs dealing with stroke and heart disease and women’s health will now have to be funded out of the state’s general fund or simply not be funded at all.
“These are not easy things to do, but we’ve been mandated by Measure 3 to do it,” Kilzer said. Those within the tobacco prevention community say fighting Camel smoking is also fighting heart disease and stroke because tobacco use is a major contributor to both.
“They did what the voters intended them to do, which was to keep the measure as passed,” said Jeanne Prom, director of the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control.
The subcommittee’s amendments will have to go before the full Senate Appropriations Committee before becoming part of the bill, but the decision came on the same day that cessation advocated released a poll on the popularity of Measure 3.
The survey of 400 likely North Dakota voters, released by a coalition of groups including the American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, found 84 percent supported keeping Measure 3 in place and continuing to fund tobacco prevention programs with tobacco settlement money.
The survey was conducted by the polling firm Public Opinion Strategies on March 9 and 10. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.