Minnesota Loses Ground In America Lung Association Report

(January 16, 2013)

SAINT PAUL, MN– Minnesota earned an two “F” grades for tobacco prevention and control spending and for cessation coverage in the annual State of Tobacco Control report issued today by the American Lung Association. While the state gets high marks for smoke free air – an “A” – it earned only a “C” grade for cigarette taxes. 

Minnesota’s grade for cessation coverage has declined in recent years from a “B” in 2010 to a “D” grade in 2011 to an “F” grade in today’s report. The failing grade is based on the state’s relatively low investment in “Quit Line” services for the estimated three-quarters of a million Minnesota adults who still smoke. While the American Lung Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends investments of $10.53 per smoker for free cessation programs, Minnesota spends only $1.32 per smoker.

As the new state legislature faces tough budget decisions this session, raising the cigarette tax may be one option that could have benefits that extend far beyond the bottom line.

“There is a well-proven connection between higher cigarette prices and reduced youth smoking,” said Pat McKone, director of tobacco control for the American Lung Association in Minnesota. “Considering the staggering economic cost of smoking-related illness in Minnesota, as well as the devastating human toll of increased lung cancer, COPD and other smoking-related illnesses, this should be the year we seriously consider raising the cigarette tax for the health of all Minnesotans.”

A link to the full report is available online at www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org