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Published April 25, 2013, 04:52 PM

ND House rejects tobacco prevention budget

BISMARCK — A narrow House majority on Thursday voted down the budget for the voter-required North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy.

By: Associated Press, INFORUM

BISMARCK — A narrow House majority on Thursday voted down the budget for the voter-required North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy.

The move confused backers of the $15.8 million budget, who said it seemed a slap in the face to voters. The center was created in 2008 after North Dakota accepted money in a settlement of a multistate lawsuit against the country's largest tobacco companies. Voters said the state had to use the money in part to fund a comprehensive, guideline-based tobacco-prevention program.

“There's people that every time it comes up, no matter what it is, they'll vote ‘no’ without even listening,” said Rep. Jon Nelson, R-Rugby, of the vote. “Never in God's world would I'd think there'd be a majority.”

Rep. Blair Thoreson, R-Fargo, said he voted against the measure because “there is a lot of money being spent on things such as advertising.” Critics also didn't like that the budget called for three new full-time employees.

The issue is expected to be resurrected Friday after the House voted to reconsider it.

Jeanne Prom, the center's executive director, said she was perplexed by the message the House was apparently trying to send. If there's a philosophical issue with the concept of a state tobacco-prevention agency, the state shouldn't have been involved in the original tobacco lawsuit, she said.

“Because we've accepted the money, we've accepted that responsibility,” Prom said. “It's time to maintain the funding of this program and move on.”

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com


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