Minnesota Health, Nonprofit Leaders Urge Tobacco Price Increase

Raise it for Health coalition supports policies that protect Minnesotans' health

Feb 13, 2012, 11:21 ET from Raise it for Health

MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Raise it for Health coalition applauds Senator Carla Nelson (R – 30) and Representative Mike Benson (R – 30B), for unveiling legislation today that would raise the price of cigarettes by $1.29 per pack and increase the tax on non-cigarette tobacco products to 95 percent of their wholesale price. It is estimated that this price increase will prevent more than 35,000 Minnesota kids from becoming addicted adult smokers and help more than 26,000 Minnesota adults quit tobacco.

"A tobacco price increase benefits all Minnesotans," said David Willoughby, CEO of ClearWay Minnesota, a statewide nonprofit that works to reduce tobacco's harm. "Combined with education and access to smoking cessation services, strong policy measures such as increasing the price of tobacco are proven best practices to help smokers quit and prevent youth from starting."

Increasing the price of cigarettes by $1.29 would bring the total tax to $2.52, when combined with the current excise tax and Minnesota's Health Impact Fee. The increase would also raise an estimated $320 million in new state revenue over the next biennium.

Each year in Minnesota, the tobacco industry spends more than $150 million on advertising and marketing and continues to disproportionately target youth and ethnic populations. However, tobacco use is impacted by price, which is a reason why many states have increased their tobacco taxes in recent years as part of comprehensive strategies to reduce tobacco's harm. Minnesota's current tax on cigarette packs is $1.23 and ranks 27th among all states.

Tobacco's harm does not discriminate and remains a critical public health issue:

  • Smoking continues to be a leading cause of preventable death and disease in Minnesota, taking the lives of more than 5,100 Minnesotans each year.
  • Smoking alone costs Minnesotans nearly $3 billion a year in excess health care costs.
  • After a decade of sharp declines in tobacco use among young adults, progress is stagnating.
  • New smokeless tobacco products are increasing in popularity with one in seven high school students reporting having tried snus.
  • Despite the FDA recently banning candy and other flavored cigarettes, more than a quarter of high school students report having tried flavored cigars and little cigars — products that are exempt from the flavor ban.  

"A tobacco price increase is one of the best ways to reduce smoking and keep these deadly products beyond the reach of youth," said Matt Schafer, Minnesota State Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society. "A tobacco price increase will prevent a new generation from becoming tobacco users, reduce the costs and save lives."   

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, 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