St. Paul, MN (3/16/18) – Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of nearly 60 organizations working to reduce youth tobacco use, applauds Governor Mark Dayton for once again standing up for Minnesota kids and health. Governor Dayton’s supplemental tax bill would restore tobacco industry tax cuts that were passed last session. Unfortunately, the proposal fails to invest in statewide quit-smoking services, which will soon end if no action is taken.
“Slashing taxes for tobacco products takes our state in the wrong direction and we applaud Gov. Dayton for standing up for the health of Minnesotans,” Molly Moilanen, Co-Chair of the Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, said. “Keeping tobacco prices high is the most effective way to prevent kids from starting to smoke and helps adults quit. We encourage the Legislature to undo their tobacco tax breaks and protect our health. Minnesota cannot afford to go back on our progress in reducing the costly death and disease caused by tobacco addiction.”
Despite significant progress, tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the state. Every year in Minnesota, smoking kills over 6,300 people and costs $7 billion in excess health care costs and lost productivity. Nearly 600,000 Minnesota adults still smoke, and the majority want to quit.
The state has also seen an alarming uptick in youth tobacco rates, driven by new products including e-cigarettes, flavored products and cigars. The 2017 Minnesota Department of Health Youth Tobacco Survey found that for the first time in 17 years, more Minnesota youth are using tobacco products.
At the same time, the Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation coalition expressed disappointment that the Governor’s proposal did not dedicate tobacco taxes or other revenue to helping adults quit. In 2017, Minnesota collected more than $840 million in tobacco taxes and settlement fees and less than one percent ($5 million) was spent on tobacco prevention and cessation efforts. Investing in statewide quit-smoking services will help Minnesota avoid a gap in services when QUITPLAN Services ends in early 2020. QUITPLAN Services is a free support program that has helped more than 173,000 Minnesotans in their efforts to quit smoking since 2001. All other states provide cessation services, and if the Legislature does not take action, Minnesota will soon become the only state without such services.
“Dedicating tax revenue from addictive and deadly products to helping people quit is an effective and common-sense strategy,” added Moilanen. “With QUITPLAN Services ending, investing in cessation services is needed now more than ever. Let’s work together to make sure Minnesota doesn’t earn the dubious distinction of becoming the only state to not provide such quit-smoking services.”
Other proposals the coalition supports include HF 2790, a bill authored by Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley), which was heard earlier this week in the House Taxes committee. Rep. Freiberg’s bill would undo the same tax cuts for tobacco companies and also require the state to dedicate a portion of these taxes to tobacco prevention and cessation services.
A separate bipartisan bill, HF 3291/SF 3006, led by Chief Authors Rep. Dario Anselmo (R-Edina) and Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester), dedicates a fraction of ongoing tobacco settlement funds to tobacco cessation services. Research finds that tobacco cessation support, including phone counseling and medication, can more than triple a person’s chances of successfully quitting.
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 Nurses 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.