New Report: Youth Vaping, Flavored Commercial Tobacco Products Threaten Progress on Policies to Reduce Tobacco Use in Minnesota

New report reveals Minnesota commercial tobacco control successes over past 20 years, and outlines path to end tobacco use and save lives

The American Lung Association’s 20th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today, finds that Minnesota had mixed progress on passing policies to reduce and prevent commercial tobacco use, including e-cigarettes. 

The “State of Tobacco Control” report evaluates state and federal policymakers on actions taken to eliminate commercial tobacco use, the nation’s leading cause of preventable death. The report also recommends proven-effective commercial tobacco control laws and policies to save lives.

Here in Minnesota in the last 20 years, lawmakers have made significant strides to reduce commercial tobacco use, like the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, increasing the tax on commercial tobacco products including e-cigarettes and funding “QuitPartner,” Minnesota Department of Health’s new quit line services. However, there is more work to be done. The adult smoking rate is still 13.8%, and the high school commercial tobacco use rate is 28.0%. 

“While we have seen considerable progress in Minnesota, commercial tobacco use remains our leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 5,910 lives each year,” said Pat McKone, advocacy director at the Lung Association. “And our progress on commercial tobacco control policy has not been equal. We continue to see the unequal burden of commercial tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in communities experiencing health disparities.”

Minnesota’s Grades 
“State of Tobacco Control” 2022 grades states and the District of Columbia in five areas that have been proven to prevent and reduce commercial tobacco use and save lives. Minnesota received the following grades: 

  1. Funding for State Commercial Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
  2. Strength of Smokefree Air Laws – Grade A
  3. Level of State Commercial Tobacco Taxes – Grade B
  4. Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Commercial Tobacco – Grade A
  5. Ending the Sale of All Flavored Commercial Tobacco Products – Grade F

This year’s report noted the need for Minnesota policymakers to focus on ending the sale of all flavored commercial tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and removing barriers to commercial tobacco treatment for Minnesotans enrolled in Medicaid and MinnesotaCare by expanding reimbursement for nicotine dependency treatment.

“Kids follow the flavors, so ending the sale of all flavored commercial tobacco products in Minnesota is key to ending youth tobacco use. We call on legislators in St. Paul to prohibit the sale of all flavored commercial tobacco products, including menthol, across Minnesota,” said McKone.

Federal Grades Overview
Nationally, the report reveals significant progress in the work to end commercial tobacco use, but products like e-cigarettes and other flavored commercial tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, create concern for losing another generation to nicotine addiction.

“State of Tobacco Control” 2022 also grades the federal government in five areas: 

  • Federal Government Regulation of Commercial Tobacco Products (2022 grade – D)
  • Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments (2022 grade – D)
  • Level of Federal Commercial Tobacco Taxes (2022 grade – F)
  • Federal Mass Media Campaigns to Prevent and Reduce Commercial Tobacco Use (2022 grade – A)
  • Federal Minimum Age of Sale for Commercial Tobacco Products to 21 (2022 grade – I*)

*The Incomplete grade is for the FDA being more than 18 months overdue in publishing the final Tobacco 21 regulations as required by statute.

“In 2022, Minnesota needs to redouble its efforts to pass the proven policies called for in ‘State of Tobacco Control’ to help end commercial tobacco use. We cannot afford to wait 20 more years and allow another generation to suffer from commercial tobacco-caused addiction, disease and death,” said McKone.

For more information, contact:

Dana Kauffman
[email protected]

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