Tobacco tax increase a success: Fewer Minnesota kids smoking

Youth smoking rate drops from 18.1 percent to 10.6 percent

Nov 10, 2014, 13:00 ET from Raise it for Health

MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Raise it for Health coalition praised the results of a study today released by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), showing a dramatic drop in the number of Minnesota kids smoking cigarettes. Specifically, the smoking rate among Minnesota students grades six through 12 decreased from 18.1 percent in 2011 to 10.6 percent in 2014, the steepest decline ever recorded by this survey. The study also showed fewer Minnesota kids using other tobacco products, including cigars, cigarillos and smokeless tobacco.

The Minnesota Legislature raised the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products significantly in 2013. The proposal had strong support from Governor Dayton, elected officials on both sides of the aisle and a majority of Minnesotans from all corners of the state.

"The dramatic drop in the number of Minnesota kids smoking is one clear indication that the tobacco tax is working," said Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs at ClearWay Minnesota, and co-chair of the Raise it for Health coalition. "The tobacco industry spends nearly 165 million dollars each year marketing their dangerous products in our state. Raising the price of tobacco is the best tool we have to prevent youth smoking and give our kids a fighting chance against Big Tobacco." 

In addition to keeping more kids from smoking, the $1.60 per-pack increase will:

  • Help more than 36,600 addicted adults stop smoking.
  • Prevent 25,700 Minnesotans from dying prematurely from smoking-related deaths.
  • Save $1.65 billion in long-term health care costs.

"Thank you, Governor Dayton and members of the Minnesota Legislature, for taking this bold and important step," said Janelle Waldock, Director of the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, and co-chair of the Raise it for Health coalition. "These results reinforce what we know: increasing the tax on tobacco products was a victory for the health of Minnesota's kids."

The Minnesota Department of Health has conducted the Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey (MYTS) in 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014. The survey includes questions on the use of various tobacco products, characteristics of smokers, exposure to secondhand smoke, media awareness and other topics. Public schools and classrooms across the state were selected at random and invited to participate.

For more information on the MYTS, please visit www.health.state.mn.us.

Raise it for Health is a coalition of Minnesota's leading health and nonprofit organizations with a common goal of reducing tobacco use in the state. 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 Minnesota(SM), 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