New Report Reveals Mixed Grades for Minnesota Tobacco Control Efforts
(January 30, 2019) - MINNEAPOLIS
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Today, the American Lung Association in Minnesota released the 2019 "State of Tobacco Control" report, which revealed mixed grades on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use.
The 17th annual "State of Tobacco Control" report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use. The report finds that elected officials must do more to save lives and ensure all Minnesota residents benefit from reductions in tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke:
- Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
- Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade A
- Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade B
- Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade A
- Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F
The need for Minnesota to take action to protect youth from tobacco is more urgent than ever. In 2018, the Minnesota Department of Health released the Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey in 2018 revealing for the first time in 17 years, the youth tobacco use rate has risen. Nationally, youth e-cigarette use has reached epidemic levels due to a 78 percent increase in high school e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey. This has caused the U.S. Surgeon General to declare e-cigarette use among young people an epidemic in an Advisory issued in December 2018.
"In 2018, we made significant progress on the local level, increasing the sales age of tobacco products to 21 in 21 municipalities and passing policies that limit youth access to menthol and other flavored tobacco products," said Pat McKone, senior director of health promotions for the Lung Association. "However, in Minnesota, our smoking rates remain at 14.5 percent and tobacco use remains the state's leading cause of preventable death and disease, killing more than 5,000 people per year. There is still more to be done to prevent and reduce tobacco use such as securing funding for tobacco cessation and prevention strategies, and raising the legal sales age of tobacco products to 21 statewide."
The American Lung Association encourages Minnesota to fully fund tobacco control efforts at levels recommended by the CDC, and in particular, this year's report noted the need to focus on passing legislation to raise the legal sales age of tobacco products to 21, known as Tobacco 21. This law is a powerful tool to prevent and reduce youth tobacco use.
"Tobacco is a highly addictive product, and close to 95 percent of smokers try their first cigarette by the age of 21. Tobacco 21 would significantly reduce youth tobacco use, slow the e-cigarette epidemic and save thousands of lives," said McKone. "In the 2019 'State of Tobacco Control' report, we call for state legislators to take action to protect the children of Minnesota by raising the minimum sales age for tobacco, including e-cigarettes, to 21 statewide."
The 2019 "State of Tobacco Control" provides a blueprint that states and the federal government can follow to put in place proven policies that will have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in the U.S. The real question is: Will lawmakers in Minnesota end their failure to act and take this opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease?
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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