More than 250 advocates tell legislators: Prevent kids from starting.
St. Paul, MN (May 3, 2016) – Concerned citizens and youth advocates rallied at the Minnesota State Capitol May 3, promoting ways to reduce youth smoking and save kids from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco.
“Today was a fantastic opportunity for youth to talk with their state lawmakers about the problem of tobacco in Minnesota,” said Molly Moilanen, Co-Chair of Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of Minnesota’s leading health organizations. “They shared concerns about how Big Tobacco targets them and how deadly tobacco products have impacted their lives.”
Minnesotans agree more needs to be done to keep kids from a lifetime of tobacco addiction and disease. The best way to prevent youth from using tobacco products is to keep them from starting in the first place. These steps can help ensure a smoke-free generation:
- Raising the tobacco purchase age to 21. Ninety percent of adult smokers started before the age of 18. Widening the gap between teens and those who can legally purchase tobacco reduces kids’ ability to buy it or access it through social networks.
- Restricting sales of flavored tobacco products. The tobacco industry uses candy, fruit and menthol flavors to appeal to youth, African Americans, LGBTQ communities and others. Nationally, more than 40 percent of students who smoke use flavored products, and restrictions will help keep them out of young people’s hands.
- Increasing public funding for tobacco control efforts. Minnesota currently spends just 42 percent of what the Centers for Disease Control recommends for an effective, comprehensive tobacco control program.
- Keeping tobacco prices high. This is the most effective way to prevent kids from becoming addicted to tobacco products. High prices discourage youth from starting and encourage current smokers to quit.
As the Minnesota Legislature comes closer to a 2016 tax bill, youth advocates also educated legislators about the importance of preventing tax breaks for tobacco companies.
“Lawmakers play an important role in creating a smoke-free generation,” said Moilanen. “There is a strong and proven correlation between high tobacco prices and lower youth smoking rates. We cannot afford to roll back the clock by giving tobacco companies tax breaks. It is encouraging to see young people carrying this message and keeping Minnesota on track to achieve a smoke-free generation.”
About Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation
Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation is a coalition of Minnesota's leading health and other interested organizations. We share a common goal of saving Minnesota youth from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco. Each year in Minnesota, tobacco use is responsible for more than 5,100 deaths and almost $3 billion in preventable health care costs — and 90 percent of adult smokers started before the age of 18. Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation supports policies that reduce youth smoking and help end the death and disease associated with tobacco use.
Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation Partners include: A Healthier Southwest, African American Leadership Forum, Allina Health, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Minnesota, Apple Tree Dental, Association for Nonsmokers – Minnesota, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CentraCare Health, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, ClearWay MinnesotaSM, Essentia Health, Four Corners Partnership, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, HealthEast, HealthPartners, LAAMPP Institute, Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative, Local Public Health Association of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, Medica, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Cancer Alliance, MN Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Minnesota Council of Health Plans, Minnesota Hospital Association, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Oral Health Coalition, Minnesota Public Health Association, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, and Twin Cities Medical Society.