By Dr. Eric Johnson Health care and its financing continues to be a hot topic for Americans, even now seven years after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Everyone is aware that this legislation was designed to improve accessibility to quality health care and significantly decrease the number of uninsured. Some of the most successful and popular elements of the ACA are: ■ Persons with pre-existing conditions, or who become sick after they buy their policies, cannot be denied coverage. (Over 110,000 North Dakotans have pre-existing conditions.
In the changing and health care environment, it's time for a fresh approach to the Office of Insurance Commissioner in North Dakota. That's why I am endorsing Ruth Buffalo for North Dakota insurance commissioner.
GRAND FORKS—It's not every day that the public is given the chance to enact policy that has significant and proven health and economic impacts across our entire population. On Election Day this fall, North Dakotans will have that chance. In March of this year, a coalition of dozens of North Dakota organizations and individuals announced our plans to initiate a ballot measure to increase our state's dangerously low tobacco taxes. Increasing the price of tobacco is proven to be the most effective way to reduce tobacco use, especially among children.
As a Grand Forks physician and chairman of the recently announced efforts to initiate a ballot measure to increase North Dakota's tobacco taxes, it's important that the public be given the facts right off the bat. ▇ First, North Dakota's tobacco taxes have not been increased since 1993, ranking us 47th in the nation for cigarette tax rates. If passed, this measure would bring North Dakota's cigarette tax from 44 cents per pack to $2.20 per pack, just slightly above the average of our neighboring states of $2.08 per pack.
Andy Peterson, Greater North Dakota Chamber president, has inaccuracies in his column that are not confusions and deserve correcting ("War against tobacco mustn't target free enterprise," Page A4, July 10). We have documented exchanges with Peterson providing the facts, but they were ignored before he submitted his letter. First, Tobacco Free North Dakota neither has an unlimited budget nor runs commercials. We are a nonprofit organization with volunteer board members and one consultant.
If Herald readers have not read the June 30, 2015 New York Times story titled, "U.S. Chamber of Commerce works globally to fight antismoking measures," they should do so.
I stayed in Sioux Falls, S.D., a few weeks ago after a quick trip to Omaha, but we stayed in a different hotel than we usually do.
In the past week, I've come to the conclusion that too often we as a state let ourselves be identified by those who aren't representative of us.
GRAND FORKS -- Vaping is smoking, although the Herald's editorial board thinks otherwise ("E-cigs bring benefits in smoking reduction," editorial, Page F1, March 15). Although there is plenty of speculation, there is no significant data to support a public health benefit of e-cigarettes, and saying they are beneficial is harmful to our youth and smokers, who are trying to quit. E-cigs use a battery-powered electric combustion system to put the nicotine and other additives into a vapor that is inhaled, resulting in extremely efficient delivery of nicotine.
GRAND FORKS — According to the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Surgeon General, tobacco kills about 480,000 persons every year in the United States. In 1964, about 41 percent of adults were cigarette smokers. Today, that rate is down to a little more than 18 percent. Significant strides have been made over the past five decades to reduce smoking and the tremendous health and financial burden it puts on our society.