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Health district receives funds

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Central Valley Health District recently received more than $250,000 to aid a six-county region in the fight against tobacco.

The funding is part of Measure 3, which passed in November 2008. The measure created a trust fund where money is placed by law, said Jeanne Prom, executive director at the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy.

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The money is set aside as a small portion from the tobacco settlement and the intent is provide funds for an additional seven years, Prom said.

This year more than $2.9 million was allocated to 23 public health agencies with Central Valley Health receiving $256,203 because of population.

Along with Stutsman County, Logan, Emmons, Kidder, LaMoure and McIntosh counties are also serviced by Central Valley Health.

"By funding all of the local health units you reach everybody," Prom said.

The money will be used following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention best practices, she said, the same steps that she said have worked in California and New York. Those practices include education and creation of smoke-free areas in public places.

"Jamestown College was one of the first campuses in the state to become smoke free," said Nancy Thoen, director of Tobacco Prevention and Control for the Central Valley Health District.

While certain places in Jamestown are smoke free, the biggest challenge will be getting bars to kick the habit, Thoen said.

In order to do that officials work with government on the local and state level to implement policies, she said.

"That's the biggest challenge for us is getting local governments to addresses the issue," Thoen said.

Napoleon recently passed the state's strongest smoke-free ordinance, requiring smokers to be 25 feet away from a bar or restaurant, she said.

Aside from working with local governments to create smoke-free legislation, officials are also working with the Legislature to increase taxes on cigarettes by $2 a pack.

North Dakota currently ranks 46th in the nation for cigarette tax prices at 44 cents and has not raised the tax since 1993. By raising the price on cigarettes officials are trying to keep younger people from smoking, she said.

"When it starts hitting you in the wallet, that's a huge indicator," Thoen said.

The other part of the CDC best practices is education of youth and adults about the dangers of smoking.

Students are taught from kindergarten to senior year to stay away from cigarettes, she said.

All public health clinics in the state are required to ask about tobacco usage during a visit. From there smokers are given the number to the North Dakota Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-784-8669, where a personalized plan is given to callers.

Stutsman County has 109 enrolled in the Quitline, Thoen said.

Other resources like Quitnet, www.nd.quitnet.com, offer the ability to track money saved and health gained by quitting.

"The goal is obviously smoke free for across North Dakota," said Robin Iszler, administrator of Central Valley Health.

Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at brodgers@jamestownsun.com

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