St. Paul, MN (05/24/17) – Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of 50 leading Minnesota health organizations, expressed disappointment that legislators passed a tax bill containing massive tax cuts on premium cigars and other tax benefits for the tobacco industry.
“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Minnesota, responsible for more than $7 billion each year in health care costs and lost productivity,” said Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs for ClearWay Minnesota and Co-Chair of Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation. “Our lawmakers have walked back recent progress. They have put tobacco industry profits ahead of kids’ health.”
Specifically, the tax bill passed by the Legislature:
- Reduces the maximum tax on so-called premium cigars from $3.50 to $.50 – an 85 percent cut. It also expands the definition of these cigars so the tax cut applies to more products.
- Eliminates an annual cigarette tax increase that had kept pace with inflation and deterred youth from smoking.
The bill contained one positive provision, increasing the tax rate on large containers of moist snuff tobacco.
In total, these tax breaks will cost the state nearly $50 million over the next four years. These are dollars that could be dedicated to helping smokers quit and preventing youth from starting.
ABOUT MINNESOTANS FOR A SMOKE-FREE GENERATION
Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation is a coalition of Minnesota organizations that 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 6,300 deaths and more than $3 billion in preventable health care costs. Nearly 95 percent of adult smokers started before the age of 21. The coalition supports policies that prevent initiation and reduce youth smoking, including keeping tobacco prices high, raising the tobacco sale age to 21, limiting access to candy-, fruit- and menthol-flavored tobacco and funding future tobacco prevention programs.
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, 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 Latinos Unidas En Servicio – CLUES, Essentia Health, Four Corners Partnership, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, HealthEast, HealthPartners, Hennepin County Medical Center, Hope Dental Clinic, Indigenous Peoples Task Force, ISAIAH, LAAMPP Institute, Lake Region Healthcare, Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative, Local Public Health Association of Minnesota, March of Dimes, Mayo Clinic, Medica, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers, Minnesota Cancer Alliance, Minnesota 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, Model Cities of St. Paul, Inc., NAMI Minnesota, North Memorial Health Care, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, Perham Health, Rainbow Health Initiative, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Tobacco Free Alliance, Twin Cities Medical Society, UCare and WellShare International. Find out more at: smokefreegenmn.org.