BreatheND Closes as Department of Health Takes Over Tobacco Prevention

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With one agency coming to an end, North Dakota tobacco prevention falls on the state health department.

With BreatheND, closing its doors state employees look to pick up where they left off.

What started with North Dakota voters as an initiated measure is in its final chapter.

BreatheND, North Dakota’s tobacco prevention and control agency is packing up the last of its boxes.

“It’s important that the public know’s this agency is ending because the North Dakota legislature decided that it was going to end this agency,” Jeanne Prom, BreatheND says.

Cutting BreatheND is part of the millions slashed from the state budget due to a more than 100  million dollar projected shortfall this biennium.

“Our services and the way we provided them will no longer be offered,” Prom says.

What remains is a tobacco prevention and control program that will fall under the state health department.

But with the cuts come changes.

“The health department is now going to be the lead agency for all of these activities,” Krista Fremming, North Dakota Department of Health says.

But the health department will now conduct tobacco prevention from a budget that’s nearly half of what it once was.

“That was part of the legislative and Governor’s decision to try to move this back into one agency [and]  to capitalize on some of those cost savings,” Fremming says.

The hope is with one agency working on tobacco prevention, the health department can cut costs, reduce staff, and advertising dollars.

“We just won’t have the budget to be running a lot of those TV ads,” Fremming says.

They’ll continue promoting programs like ND Quits plus phone and web resources for those trying to quit smoking.

“We are very proud of what we’ve accomplished and it has been proven to be effective,” Prom says.

Throughout its time as an agency, BreatheND focused on prevention and legislative policy to eliminate smoking in public places.

It also lobbied to increase taxes on tobacco products.

BreatheND’s official last day will be June 30.

And the North Dakota Department of Health will have their official plan for tobacco prevention laid out by the end of July.

All eight full time BreatheND employees are now out of a job.
 

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