FARGO, N.D. — A division of North Dakota’s Health Department that aims to help smokers quit is putting $2,500 toward reaching people at a gay Pride festival in Fargo later this summer, raising questions about whether public money should be used to support specific causes, the Associated Press reported this week.
The expenditure, which comes from a state fund filled with money from a settlement with tobacco companies, covers the cost of setting up a booth and handing out brochures, as well as advertising in the F-M Pride’s guide and on the group’s website, the AP article said.
The money is not a sponsorship but a means to reach the LGBT population, which the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is 70 percent more likely to smoke than the general population, said Krista Fremming, director of the Health Department’s Tobacco Control Program, according to the article.
North Dakota Policy Council Executive Director Zack Tiggelaar said he supports efforts to encourage smokers to quit but questions whether public money should be used.
“The government shouldn’t be using taxpayer dollars to support specific causes. If the money was completely private and there were no public dollars at all, there would be no issue,” he was quoted as having said in the AP article.