North Dakota - statewide anti-tobacco plan to be released in July 2009..

June 30, 2009 - A new state agency expects to unveil its plans next month (July 2009) to cut tobacco use in North Dakota, including grants to encourage schools to ban smoking on their properties. "This is a chance for us to really make progress in some of the areas where we haven't in the past," said Kathleen Mangskau, the chairwoman of a three-person executive committee that will oversee the program's implementation.

Mangskau briefed the Legislature's Budget Section on Tuesday on the work of the tobacco control committee, which is independent of the state Health Department. The Budget Section includes legislative leaders and members of the appropriations committees in the state House and Senate.

North Dakota voters approved a ballot measure last November 2008 to form the committee and order a portion of the income from a 1998 settlement with the nation's largest tobacco companies be set aside to finance its operations. The agency has a two-year budget of almost $12.9 million.

Mangskau told lawmakers Tuesday that a nine-member advisory board in charge of drafting the statewide anti-tobacco plan has almost finished its work. The blueprint will be made public in early July, she said.

Board members have held public forums on the plan in Fargo, Devils Lake, Minot, Bismarck, Williston and Dickinson, and went over specifics at a two-day meeting last week.

Local public health units have been invited to apply for $6.1 million in grants. Rural health organizations, which in the past may have gotten only about $5,000 for anti-tobacco projects, will now be eligible for at least $20,000, Mangskau said in an interview.

North Dakota has 28 local public health units. Some grant money may be used to coax local school districts into adopting tobacco-free policies covering their buildings and grounds, Mangskau said.

The policies would prohibit smoking in buildings or school facilities, whether or not school was in session. The bans would cover school-owned outdoor stadiums and private facilities when school events are held there.

"We know that promoting tobacco-free environments does cut down on tobacco use," Mangskau said.

Reference: N.D. panel expects July rollout of anti-tobacco plan by DALE WETZEL
Associated Press Writer, The Bismarck Tribune, 6/24/2009.

Click on image to enlarge...