1. Keep tobacco prices high;
2. Limit access to menthol and other flavored tobacco products;
3. Raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21; and
4. Secure funding for proven tobacco prevention strategies.
During the 2016 legislative session, more than 40 leading health and other interested organizations joined together to form Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation. Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation shares the goal of saving Minnesota youth from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco. The Coalition support policies that reduce youth smoking and will help end the death and disease associated with tobacco use for good.
Big tobacco - specifically RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris - worked overtime to make sure the final tax deal debated during the 2016 session included big tax breaks for their deadly products. One proposal would have eliminated the annual tax increase on cigarettes important to deter youth from smoking in the future. Another proposal would have significantly lowered the tax rate on e-cigarettes sold by Big Tobacco such as VUSE and Mark Ten.
Despite strong opposition from legislative leaders, the Commissioner of Health and Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, both proposals were included in the final omnibus tax bill that passed the House and Senate with bipartisan majorities. Governor Dayton criticized the legislature for including $32 million in tobacco industry tax cuts in the final bill, and ultimately "pocket vetoed" the bill because it included a separate multi-million dollar error.
However, eliminating the annual tobacco tax increase and reducing the tax on their e-cigarette brands will remain top priorities for the tobacco industry in 2017.
Working together in a strong coalition of partners from across the state, the American Lung Association in Minnesota will continue to take on Big Tobacco and advocate for bold policies like limiting access to candy-, fruit- and menthol-flavored tobacco products and increasing the age of sale for tobacco products to 21.