Tobacco tax campaign names statewide advisory board

Tobacco tax campaign names statewide advisory board
The Tax Tobacco: Save Lives. Save Money. Campaign announced the members of its statewide advisory board.� This group of health care professionals, educators, businessmen, and civic leaders has come forward to volunteer their time to a campaign designed to prevent under age tobacco use and promote a healthier South Dakota.

The group represents a comprehensive cross-section of civic-minded individuals from around the state. The board members have been traveling within their local communities and around the state talking about the importance of passing the tobacco tax this November.� "This is a group of highly motivated and extremely dedicated individuals, that I am proud to work with," said campaign chairman Larry Luitjens. "These people have given of their personal time and energy to educate South Dakota on the many benefits, of the Tax Tobacco: Save Lives. Save Money. Campaign."

Of the many benefits cited by Luitjens, number one is the reduction in youth smoking. Luitjens, a legendary high school coach, has seen first hand the ill effects of teenage smoking.

"It just breaks your heart," said Luitjens. "These kids think they are invincible and quite frankly don't have the years and wisdom to understand the irreparable harm they are doing to themselves and their future health. We must do what we can to make sure kids never take that first puff."

Luitjens concerns are validated by recent studies that show South Dakota has the second highest youth smoking rate in the nation, with 28 percent of South Dakota high school students admitting smoking.

East River Co-Chairman and advisory board member Rod Parry, M.D., says the state cannot afford to keep paying for smoking related illnesses. At the current tobacco tax rates, South Dakota taxpayers are losing millions of dollars annually.

"South Dakota's tobacco taxes are well below the national average," said Parry, who is also the vice president/dean of the Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota. "Tobacco use will cost South Dakota's taxpayer-funded Medicaid program $53 million this year alone while taxes generated from tobacco users will amount to less than $30 million, leaving the non-tobacco using taxpayers of South Dakota to make up the difference.

"It's time we start making this deadly habit less affordable, especially for children," Parry continued. "I can't remember having a patient tell me they started smoking in their 30's , 40's or 50's, this is a habit that starts young and as responsible members of� society it's time we do something meaningful to break this vicious cycle of early addiction. This tax is a win/win for South Dakota."

The 31-member advisory board will have a busy next 60 days. They plan to give speeches, attend events, recruit additional volunteers, make phone calls, and distribute information to voters. "I am sure we will all be exhausted on Nov. 7," said Luitjens. "Everyone on this advisory board understands just how important passing the tobacco tax will be to the future of South Dakota."

Members of the advisory board are listed below:

E. Paul Amundson, M.D.

Physician, Sioux Falls

Marty Allison, M.D.

Physician, Pierre��

Kevin Weiland, M.D.

Physician, Rapid City

Joann Bennett, DO

Physician, Sioux Falls

Patrick S. McGreevy, M.D.

Physician, Sioux Falls

Dick Bohy

American Cancer Society – Midwest Division, Sioux Falls

Roger Carter, M.D.

Physician, Watertown

Mary Dunn����������

Educator, Eden

Larry Frost�����������

South Dakota State Representative, Aberdeen

Leslie Heinemann, DDS Flandreau

Steve Hilpipre������

Clinic Manager, Watertown

Jennifer Stalley

American Cancer Society

Midwest Division, Pierre

Joanie Holm��������

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Brookings

Richard Holm, M.D.������

Physician, Brookings

Paul Knecht���������

South Dakota Dental

Association, Pierre

Dean Krogman���

South Dakota Medical

Association, Sioux Falls

Ellen Lee

Foundation Director, Pierre

Clark Likness, M.D.�������

Physician, Watertown

Larry Luitjens�����


Principal/Coach Custer High School, Custer

Tobi Lyon

South Dakota Nurses

Association, Rapid City

Dwight Vick, Ph.D.

Asst. Professor of Political Science, University of South Dakota

J. Michael� McMillin, M.D.

Physician, Sioux Falls

Allen Nord, M.D.������������

South Dakota Tobacco Free Kids Network, Rapid City

Charisse Oland����

Healthcare Consultant,

Sioux Falls

Rodney R. Parry, M.D.


Physician, Sioux Falls

James Reynolds, M.D.

Physician, Sioux Falls

David Rossing, M.D.������

Physician, Madison

Chuck Sherman, Ph.D.

Watertown Human Service Agency, Watertown

Darrin Smith

American Heart Association, Sioux Falls

Don Van Etten, M.D.����

Retired Surgeon, Rapid City

Mike Luken

Board Chairman American Lung Association, Watertown

The Tax Tobacco: Save Lives. Save Money. Campaign encourages anyone who would like to get more information or help in the effort to visit

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