Letter: Listen to Voters on Tobacco-Prevention Funding

Letter: Listen to voters on tobacco-prevention funding
By Sarah Odegard on Jan 5, 2017 Grand Forks Herald
When I cast my vote for North Dakota’s legislators, I expect they’ll bring my interests and values to the Capitol. But now that BreatheND’s funding is in under attack, I think maybe our legislators need a reminder about what the people want.
Here’s a hint: we want BreatheND!
I voted for Measure 3 seven years ago. This was the measure that dedicated a portion of the tobacco settlement dollars to support tobacco prevention and created BreatheND.
I voted for it because as a nurse, I’ve seen first-hand how tobacco ruins lives. The measure passed because the majority of North Dakotans believe tobacco prevention education saves lives and health care costs. As it turned out, we were right.
BreatheND has greatly reduced the number of young people and adults in North Dakota who use tobacco. Tobacco use still costs North Dakota $326 million a year in health care costs and $56.9 million a year in Medicaid costs. The work isn’t done yet, but think of how much we’ve saved by cutting youth smoking rates in half.
Voters get it. We have built momentum to make even more significant impacts on tobacco rates and save even more money on health care and insurance.
The 2015 North Dakota Public Opinion Survey says 90 percent of North Dakotans support continuing BreatheND. We stand by our vote, and legislators can’t ignore those numbers.
Now, we need our legislators to stand by us.
As representatives of our state, legislators must hear what the people want and follow through accordingly.
Hear us now.
Support Senate Bill 2024 to fully fund BreatheND and continue this important work.
Sarah Odegard
Reynolds, N.D.