St. Paul, MN (2/9/18) – Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of more than 50 organizations working to reduce youth tobacco use, applauds Representative Mike Freiberg (DFL – Golden Valley) for proposing legislation to undo tax cuts for tobacco companies that were passed last legislative session in the tax bill. Rep. Freiberg’s bill requires the state to dedicate a portion of these taxes to tobacco prevention and cessation services.
“This proposal is smart public policy because it dedicates tax revenue from addictive and deadly products to help smokers quit and prevent Minnesota kids from ever becoming hooked,” said Janelle Waldock, Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation co-chair and Vice President of Community Health and Health Equity at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “Last year, Minnesota collected over $840 million in tobacco taxes and settlement payments – none of which was dedicated to smoking prevention or cessation. Meanwhile, tobacco companies spent $110 million marketing their products in Minnesota, much of which was targeted at youth.”
Despite significant progress, tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease in our 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 most want to quit.
Unfortunately, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation in Minnesota falls short and is declining. ClearWay MinnesotaSM, an independent nonprofit which provides cessation help to all Minnesotans, is a life-limited organization, and its QUITPLAN® Services program will end in March of 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 fund cessation services, and if the Legislature does not take action, Minnesota will soon become the only state without such services.
“Investing in proven prevention strategies and smoking cessation services is needed now more than ever,” Waldock said. “Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation urges lawmakers to pass this bill because it invests in a healthier future for all of us.”
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 Institute, Lake Region Healthcare, Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative, Live Well Goodhue County, 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" and WellShare International. Find out more at: smokefreegenmn.org.