North Dakota Must Stand Up to Big Tobacco

During American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout®, Cancer Patients, Survivors, and Advocates Urge Lawmakers to Pass Tobacco Control Measures to Protect Public Health

November 15, 2023

BISMARCK, North Dakota – November 15, 2023 – Elected officials across the state must do more to support residents of North Dakota who want to quit using tobacco products, say cancer patients, survivors, and advocates who are marking the American Cancer Society’s 48th annual Great American Smokeout®. The Great American Smokeout is a day for people who use tobacco to create a plan to quit.

In North Dakota, tobacco use is still the leading preventable cause of disease and death, and smoking is now linked to at least 12 types of cancers, including lung, liver and colorectal cancers. More than 1,000 die from a smoking-related disease each year in North Dakota alone. Although these hazards are well established, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show 11% of North Dakotans smoke. These products are often highly addictive, and it can be difficult for people to quit using tobacco once they have started.

“The Great American Smokeout is not just an opportunity for people who use tobacco to set a plan to quit. It’s also a clear wake up call for lawmakers to say it’s time for North Dakota to stand up to Big Tobacco,” said Ben Hanson, Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). 

Research shows that strong tobacco control policies, like clean indoor air laws – passed by 67% of state voters in 2012 -- help people quit smoking.

“Nearly 70% of adults who smoke want to quit, but quitting is incredibly difficult,” Hanson said. “We know that a well-funded tobacco cessation and prevention program is so important to provide the support needed to help people quit, and to help prevent kids and young adults from starting to use tobacco.”

Tobacco use is one of the primary drivers of cancer-related health disparities. Tobacco companies have specifically targeted communities of color, limited income communities, veterans, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people and youth has caused disproportionate tobacco use among these populations. Achieving health equity relies heavily on eliminating tobacco use.

Free resources on quitting tobacco can be found at ND Quits or through the American Cancer Society’s cessation program, Empowered to Quit.


The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that improves the lives of people with cancer and their families. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and advanced proven tobacco control measures. We’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers to end cancer as we know it, for everyone. Join the fight by visiting

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