House Taxes Committee Debates Raising the Price of Tobacco

Lenczewski bill will raise cigarette price, improve health for all Minnesotans

Feb 07, 2013, 15:41 ET from Raise it for Health

MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The House Taxes Committee today considered HF 91, a bill authored by committee Chair Rep. Ann Lenczewski (D – Bloomington). This measure would raise the price of tobacco, which research shows is the single best way to keep kids from smoking and help addicted adults kick the habit.

"We want to thank State Representative Lenczewski, the Governor, and many of you for supporting legislation to increase the price of tobacco this year," Molly Moilanen told committee members. Moilanen is Director of Public Affairs at ClearWay Minnesota(SM) and spoke on behalf of the Raise it for Health coalition. "The public is with you. A majority of Minnesotans support increasing the tax on cigarettes by $1.50 per pack. We stand ready to do whatever we can to help smokers quit and prevent our youth from smoking."

Raise it for Health is a coalition of Minnesota's leading health, business and nonprofit organizations with a common goal of reducing tobacco use in the state. A $1.50 per pack increase in the tobacco tax would prevent 47,700 Minnesota kids from becoming addicted adults, help 36,600 Minnesotans quit and save 27,700 Minnesotans from premature smoking-related deaths. 

"The statistics are grim for those who fall into a tobacco addiction trap," testified Dr. Courtney Jordan Baechler, a cardiologist and a volunteer with the American Heart Association. "But the most important thing we can do as adults, and you can do as lawmakers, is to make sure that tobacco products are as difficult as possible for kids to get their hands on."

"I choose not to smoke because I lost my dad to esophageal cancer a week after my 14th birthday," explained Kaila Narum, a University of Minnesota student, volunteer with Colleges Against Cancer and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. "Despite everything we know about the dangers of smoking, the tobacco industry continues to target replacement smokers – my friends and me. We need to understand the historic importance of this legislation, its lifesaving potential and the devastating consequences of doing nothing." 

Committee members did not vote on the legislation in today's hearing, but the bill will be held over for possible inclusion in the Tax Omnibus Bill later this session. 

Raise it for Health partners include: AARP Minnesota, Allina Health, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Minnesota, Association for Minnesota Counties, Association for Nonsmokers – MN, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CentraCare Health System, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, ClearWay MinnesotaSM, Courage Center, Four Corners Partnership, HealthEast Care System, HealthPartners, LAAMPP Institute, 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 Comprehensive Health Association, Minnesota Council of Health Plans, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Public Health Association, Park Nicollet Health Services, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, School Nurse Organization of Minnesota, Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota, Southwest Community Health Improvement Program, and Twin Cities Medical Society.

SOURCE Raise it for Health