Employees at BreatheND are getting ready to say goodbye.
Thanks to yesterday’s House vote of 62 to 29, BreatheND, North Dakota’s tobacco prevention program, is coming to an end.
Executive Director of BreatheND Jeanne Prom says, “Breathe ND is ending, it’s not being transferred anywhere it is done on June 30th.”
In less than four months BretheND – North Dakota’s tobacco prevention program – will close its doors.
North Dakotans voted to fund the program in 2008, directly from the tobacco settlement.
Since then, BreatheND has operated under their plan: Saving Lives – Saving Money.
But this week, the legislature decided the best way for them to cut costs was to cut the program entirely.
“All of the people at BreatheND their jobs end. All of the grants that we had to every local public health unit in the state, those grants end. And the advertising that you see on the television and hear on the radio or see otherwise that ends as well,” Prom says.
But the loss of jobs doesn’t stop at the state level.
BreatheND funds tobacco prevention on the county and city levels too.
Prom says on top of the eight people whose jobs were cut at the state level, there are people in every public health unit whose job funding comes straight from BreatheND.
In 2016, the U.S. Surgeon General highlighted the need to expand tobacco prevention efforts to include e-cigarrettes and BreatheND as a program that is leading the way in the country’s prevention efforts.
“When BreatheND goes away there won’t be the kind of resources in tobacco use prevention that BreatheND was able to provide,” Prom says.
Prom says in the four years before BreatheND began the youth smoking rate had “flat lined” and was beginning to creep upward after several years of decline.
“You certainly can’t run the same level of programming at the state level with six people compared to 13 people. And you certainly can’t run a program locally when you had one or two people and now you have no people,” Prom says.
As of today, the North Dakota Legislature has yet to determine if there will be any other funding to continue local tobacco prevention.