For the past four years, North Dakota has been tiuted as the top state in the country at "protecting" kids from tobacco use. That ranking took a drop in 2017.

This year, North Dakota cut funding for previously successful programs focused on tobacco prevention and cessation by nearly 46 percent and ended the tobacco prevention and control agency, BreatheND. Due to these cuts, North Dakota has fallen from 1st in protecting kids from tobacco to 3rd in the nation.

While it might not seem like a big deal of dropping from first to third, based on the cuts made by the state, it's evident as to how much worse other states are doing as well. Only Alaska and California spend more than 90 percent of what is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an overall budget for tobacco prevention. North Dakota had the highest for the previous four years, but now, the recommended $9.9 million has dropped to just $5.3 million in 2017.

North Dakota, Alaska, and California are the only states in the country that spend more than 50 percent of what is recommended by the CDC. While strides have been made and smoking and tobacco use are at an all-time low, those two things still kill more than 480,000 Americans and cost the U.S. about $170 billion in health care expenses each year.

Annually, tobacco use in North Dakota costs the state $326 million in health care bills and claims 1,000 lives of residents in the state. According to the report done by the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids, 11.7 percent of high school students smoke while 300 kids become regular smokers each year.

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