WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 14, 2010, 09:29 AM

Tobacco prevention funding to focus less on personal displays

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Should students learn about the harmful effects of tobacco in schools? They do now, but even as the chair of the Tobacco Prevention and Control Executive Committee says the amount of state money available for that has grown, the opportunity for teachers and school nurses to play an active role is shrinking.

A murder scene at Discovery middle school is littered with evidence, pointing toward one culprit: Big Tobacco. It's meant to hit kids hard with the cold hard facts of what tobacco can do.

Discovery's nurse was hoping for this reaction after spending a 15-hundred dollar state grant on this and tobacco prevention bracelets. Even so, public health officials say that's the last grant of its kind.

Jane Prather/school nurse: “The numbers are down for smoking, but that’s through a lot of education. What if the numbers go back up?

Fargo Cass public health says they aren't getting rid of tobacco education; they just won't be giving money to schools to do up close and personal displays like this. The state must comply with the Center for Disease control's prevention practices, which changed to focus more on policy changes, media campaigns and quit-smoking programs.

That means teachers like Mr. Lucas won't be given time like this to discuss the dangers of the drug, which took his own father's life shortly after this picture was taken.

Bill Lucas/Reading teacher: “Closest thing they have next to parents.”

Despite his personal connection with students, CDC studies show prevention is more effective at the policy level than in the classroom, and the CDC's stamp of approval is needed for future funding of anything helping kids just say no. Tobacco products are responsible for 450-thousand deaths per year.