MINNEAPOLIS, March 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, 300 advocates gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol to persuade state legislators and Governor Mark Dayton to support strong tobacco policies in Minnesota, as part of the Raise it for Health coalition's Day at the Capitol.
Smoking costs the lives of more than 5,100 Minnesotans per year and nearly $3 billion each year in excess health care costs. Consequently, it is no surprise that research shows 79 percent of Minnesotans support smoke-free laws, and 65 percent of Minnesotans believe legislators have taken the right steps to reduce the harms caused by tobacco – or believe we have not gone far enough.
"Minnesotans took their voices to the Capitol today because they know that strong tobacco-prevention policies really work," commented Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs for ClearWay Minnesota.
"The U.S. Surgeon General's 2012 Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults report confirms that increasing the price of tobacco products is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking and keeping youth from starting to use tobacco. If we want to protect the health of Minnesotans from the harms of tobacco, we're going to need to have the leadership to implement strong policies like a tobacco price increase. Today, hundreds of Minnesotans asked their legislators and the Governor to provide that leadership."
As part of the day's activities, youth advocates from across the state signed their names to Raise it for Health coalition boards to demonstrate their support for stronger tobacco policies and ask for the Governor's support. More than 125 middle and high schoolers then met with Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger to discuss the issue of tobacco prevalence among youth in Minnesota, ask for his support of new prevention policies such as a tobacco price increase and present the signed boards.
"Research shows more than 6,800 Minnesota kids become daily smokers each year," said Matt Schafer, Minnesota Director of Government Relations for the American Cancer Society. "But our youth advocates have decided that it's time for a change and have turned that desire into action. We hope the legislature and Governor Dayton received the message loud and clear – Minnesota's youth support policies that keep cigarettes out of the hands of their friends and siblings and smoke out of the air that they breathe."
Other advocacy activities of the day included a letter writing campaign in support of policies that protect the health of all Minnesotans from the harms of tobacco. In addition, supporters and legislators were invited to kick punching bags in the Rotunda of the Capitol as part of ClearWay Minnesota's "Kick Butts" campaign.
The 2012 Raise it for Health Day at the Capitol is sponsored by ClearWay Minnesota, American Lung Association in Minnesota, American Cancer Society and American Heart Association.
For more information about the Raise it for Health coalition, go to www.raiseitforhealth.org.
Raise it for Health is a coalition of Minnesota's leading health and nonprofit organizations that share a common goal of reducing tobacco use. More than 5,100 Minnesotans still die from tobacco-related disease each year and tobacco continues to be a major driver of the state's escalating health care costs. Raise it for Health supports significantly raising the price of tobacco products in Minnesota because it is a proven way to prevent children from starting to use tobacco and helping existing tobacco users quit.
Raise it for Health partners include: AARP Minnesota, African Community Outreach Project (ACOP), Allina Hospitals & Clinics, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Minnesota, Association for Nonsmokers – Minnesota, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Catalyst, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, ClearWay Minnesota(SM), Courage Center, HealthPartners, LAAMPP, LifeScience Alley, Local Public Health Association, Mayo Clinic, Medica, Metro-MN Oncology Nursing Society, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Cancer Alliance, Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Minnesota Hospital Association, Minnesota Council of Health Plans, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Public Health Association, Park Nicollet, School Nurse Organization of Minnesota, Twin Cities Medical Society and Cardiology - University of Minnesota Physicians.
SOURCE Raise it for Health