ST. PAUL, Minn., March 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of 50 of Minnesota's leading health organizations, expressed their disappointment today about the House tax bill, which contains tax breaks that benefit the tobacco industry and could reverse progress in decreasing the smoking rate for adults and kids.
"Smoking rates have hit record lows in recent years, further proving the effectiveness of high tobacco prices," said Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs for ClearWay Minnesota and Co-Chair of Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation. "Why would we want to walk back this progress and instead hand profits to the tobacco industry?"
Specifically, the bill:
- Reduces the tax on so-called premium cigars, which are currently taxed at 95 percent of the wholesale price, like all tobacco products such as smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco and e-cigarettes. Cutting the tax cap from $3.50 to $.50 would lower it by 85 percent and slash cigar prices considerably.
- Eliminates the annual cigarette tax increase, which is important to keep pace with inflation and deter youth from smoking in the future.
"Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Minnesota, and it costs our state more than $3 billion in excess health care costs each year," said Moilanen. "We hope lawmakers will reconsider including these benefits for Big Tobacco in the tax bill. Minnesotans would rather see the Legislature take steps to prevent youth smoking and create a smoke-free generation."
Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation is a coalition of Minnesota organizations that share a common goal of saving Minnesota youth from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco. Each year in Minnesota tobacco use is responsible for more than 6,300 deaths and more than $3 billion in preventable health care costs. 95 percent of adult smokers started before the age of 21. The coalition supports policies that prevent initiation and reduce youth smoking, including keeping tobacco prices high, raising the tobacco sale age to 21, limiting access to candy-, fruit- and menthol-flavored tobacco and funding future tobacco prevention programs.
Partners include: A Healthier Southwest, African American Leadership Forum, Allina Health, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Minnesota, Apple Tree Dental, Association for Nonsmokers – Minnesota, Becker County Energize, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CentraCare Health, Children's Defense Fund – Minnesota, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, ClearWay MinnesotaSM, Comunidades Latinos Unidas En Servicio – CLUES, Essentia Health, Four Corners Partnership, Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, HealthEast, HealthPartners, Hennepin County Medical Center, Hope Dental Clinic, Indigenous Peoples Task Force, ISAIAH, LAAMPP Institute, Lake Region Healthcare, Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative, Local Public Health Association of Minnesota, March of Dimes, Mayo Clinic, Medica, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers, Minnesota Cancer Alliance, Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Minnesota Council of Health Plans, Minnesota Hospital Association, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Oral Health Coalition, Minnesota Public Health Association, Model Cities of St. Paul, Inc., NAMI Minnesota, North Memorial Health Care, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, Perham Health, Rainbow Health Initiative, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, Tobacco Free Alliance, Twin Cities Medical Society and WellShare International. Find out more at: smokefreegenmn.org.
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SOURCE Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation