North Dakota’s anti-tobacco agency spends big targeting smoking in apartments

By Rob Port | Watchdog.org North Dakota Bureau

NO SMOKING: A state agency in North Dakota dedicated to fighting tobacco use is now targeting smoking in apartment buildings and other multi-family dwellings with a statewide advertising campaign.

BISMARCK, N.D. — Spending in North Dakota on so-called “risky behavior” programs is increasing more than 20 percent in the current biennium.

One of the biggest spenders is the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy, an entity of the state government created when voters approved a ballot measure in 2008.

The center, also known as BreatheND, has more than $15 million to spend this biennium, and spending they are.

In their cross hairs — smoking in apartment buildings.

From March 31 through April 27, the committee spent more than $108,000 on radio and television advertising in markets across the state, running ads encouraging smoke-free housing, according to information obtained through an open records request

The organization also has launched SmokeFreeHousingND.com.

“People recognize the importance of eliminating secondhand smoke from public places, but smoke in apartment buildings is just as dangerous and a large percent of North Dakota’s population remains unprotected,” the group states in a media release posted on the BreatheND website. “The Center is encouraging people to talk with their local public health unit to learn more about smoke-free multi-unit housing in their communities.”

Smoking in public places, including private businesses open to the public, and places of employment already is illegal thanks to a ballot measure passed by North Dakota voters in 2012. That ban also includes vaping, or the use of so-called e-cigarettes, which have gained popularity as an alternative to traditional smoking.

As Watchdog reported previously, spending on programs addressing “risky behavior” has increased significantly in North Dakota. The state appropriated more than $122 million in combined state and federal funds to address risky behavior in the 2011-13 biennium, but that total increased that to more than $148 million in the current biennium,up about $26 million.

Most of the spending is on programs addressing alcohol and tobacco use.

Contact Rob Port at rport@watchdog.org

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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