State Lawmaker Questions Legality Of Breathe ND's Opposition To Vaping, E-Cigarettes


North Dakota’s Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy, a state agency which also operates as BreatheND, has been active in opposing the use of vaping and e-cigarettes. But a state lawmakers wonders whether or not the group has the legal authority to do that.

Rep. Mike Schatz, a Republican from New England, has requested that Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem review the situation. I write about it at Watchdog today:

“Money from the tobacco settlement is being spent by the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy to discourage the use of e-cigarettes in the form of literature, verbal communication, and advertising,” the letter obtained by Watchdog states. “I am concerned this activity constitutes the use of state dollars for a purpose that has not been approved by the Legislative Assembly.”

A search of the organization’s website turns up numerous publications of anti-vaping viewpoints. In a recent news article about state law prohibiting the sale of vaping products to minors under 18, center executive director Jeanne Prom described vaping products as containing “toxins” that “aren’t safe.” …

“I don’t see the words vaping or the words e-cigarettes at all in Measure 3,” Schatz told Watchdog in an interview. Schatz says he doesn’t think the law justifies the center’s opposition to vaping, and that if the attorney general finds otherwise he would back legislation to clarify the agency’s mission.

“That’s something with the passage of Measure 3 and the elimination of smoking in all public places indoors, we kind of thought that was the mission,” he said. “I didn’t think vaping was the mission. I thought vaping would help people to quit smoking.”

You can read Schatz’s full letter below. You can also read the text of Measure 3 as it passed on the ballot in 2008 right here. The statute refers over and over again to tobacco, not neither vaping nor e-cigarettes are mentioned.

That’s important, I think, because otherwise what would be the limits on this group’s taxpayer-funded advocacy? Could they target cheeseburgers and soda next?

This smacks of mission creep to me.