North Dakota's Tobacco Prohibitionists May Not Have A Budget This Year

It’s absolutely ridiculous that the State of North Dakota has an agency devoted to anti-tobacco activism. Political activism belongs in the private sector, not enshrined in the government.

So it’s with no small amount of satisfaction that I observe the House killing the agency’s budget. It was killed yesterday, and when brought back for reconsideration today, it was killed again. Which means that if the agency is to have a budget this year, legislators tell me, it will have to be amended into another bill.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – A narrow House majority voted down the budget for the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy in part because it called for three new full-time employees.

The bill, which had previously passed the Senate, called for a $15.8 million budget. The center was created in 2008 by voters after North Dakota accepted money in a settlement of a 1998 multistate lawsuit against the country’s largest tobacco companies.

I suspect that the agency will eventually be funded, one way or another, but really the legislature has no business giving appropriations to an agency that is already sitting on over $20 million in reserves from the state’s share of the national tobacco industry class action lawsuits.

Whatever you think about those who sell, use or promote tobacco, they shouldn’t have to fight the state government and their own tax dollars on their position. I mean, what’s next, creating a state agency to promote abortion? Or to advocate against guns?

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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