ST. PAUL, Minn., March 5, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Minnesota legislators, led by chief authors Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) and Representative Dario Anselmo (R-Edina), have introduced a bill to support statewide quit-smoking services. The proposal dedicates a fraction of ongoing tobacco settlement payments – which totaled $168 million in 2017 – to tobacco cessation services. An estimated 580,000 Minnesota adults still smoke and the majority want to quit.
Swift legislative action is needed because QUITPLAN® Services, free tobacco cessation services currently available to all Minnesotans, will end in early 2020. If no action is taken, Minnesota will become the only state not providing access to these services. Tobacco cessation support, including phone counseling and medication, can more than triple a person's chances of successfully quitting. It is also highly cost-effective, saving Minnesota $1.29 annually for every dollar invested.
"Investing tobacco revenue to help people quit smoking is a no-brainer that will improve health and save all Minnesotans money," Sen. Carla Nelson said. "Taking action this session will ensure no Minnesotan goes without the support they need."
In Minnesota, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in disease, taking the lives of more than 6,300 residents each year. In 2017, the state spent less than 1 percent ($5 million) of the funds it collected in tobacco taxes and settlement fees on prevention efforts and none was spent on helping people to quit tobacco use.
"We can do more to address the high price of tobacco use, which costs Minnesota more than $7 billion a year in health care and lost productivity," Rep. Dario Anselmo added. "Funding statewide tobacco cessation is a smart investment and an effective way to tackle tobacco addiction in Minnesota."
Sen. Nelson and Rep. Anselmo were joined on the bill by co-authors: Senators Paul Anderson (R-Plymouth), Melisa Franzen (DFL-Edina), and Melissa Wiklund (DFL-Bloomington); and Representatives Randy Jessup (R-Shoreview), Regina Barr (R-Inver Grove Heights), Matt Dean (R-Dellwood), Jennifer Schultz (DFL-Duluth), Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan), Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley), Diane Loeffler (DFL-Minneapolis), and Dave Pinto (DFL-St. Paul).
"Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation applauds Sen. Nelson, Rep. Anselmo and all co-authors for supporting this life-saving bill," said Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs for ClearWay MinnesotaSM and Co-Chair of Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation. "Between the ongoing tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, Minnesota collected more than $840 million in tobacco fees last year. Investing in statewide tobacco cessation is a great first step toward our long-term goal of reducing the burden of tobacco in our state."
About Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation
Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation supports policies that reduce youth smoking and help end the death and disease associated with tobacco use, including raising the tobacco age to 21, limiting youth access to menthol-, candy- and fruit- flavored tobacco, keeping tobacco prices high and funding future tobacco prevention and cessation efforts.
Partners include: A Healthier Southwest, African American Leadership Forum, Allina Health, March of Dimes, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, Medica, American Lung Association in Minnesota, Apple Tree Dental, Association for Nonsmokers – Minnesota, Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Corporation, 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 Latinas Unidas En Servicio – CLUES, Dodge County Public Health, Essentia Health, Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, HealthEast, Perham Health, HealthPartners, Hennepin County Medical Center, Hope Dental Clinic, Horizon Public Health, Indigenous Peoples Task Force, ISAIAH, LAAMPP Alumni, Lake Region Healthcare, Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative, Local Public Health Association of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Cancer Alliance, Minnesota Council of Health Plans, Minnesota Hospital Association, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Oral Health Coalition, Minnesota Public Health Association, MN Association of Community Health Centers, MN Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Model Cities of St. Paul, Inc., NAMI Minnesota, North Memorial Health Care, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, Rainbow Health Initiative, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Steele County Public Health, Tobacco Free Alliance, Twin Cities Medical Society, UCare, Vision In Living Life "Change is Possible", WellShare International and Zumbro Valley Medical Society. Find out more at: smokefreegenmn.org.
SOURCE Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation