'State of Tobacco Control' Report: Minnesota Takes Major Steps to Prevent Tobacco Use, More Should Be Done to Prioritize Public Health

State Earns 'F' Grades in Tobacco Prevention and Control Funding, Tobacco 21

Today, the American Lung Association released the 18th annual "State of Tobacco Control" report, which finds that in 2019 Minnesota earned mixed grades on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use, including e-cigarettes. The Lung Association finds opportunities in 2020 for Minnesota officials to take action by prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, enforcing Tobacco 21 and increasing funding for tobacco prevention and control programs in order to support public health and save lives in 2020.

This year's "State of Tobacco Control" report calls for proven tobacco control policies in light of the fact that the country's youth vaping epidemic worsened in 2019. The need for Minnesota to take action to protect youth from all flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, is more urgent than ever, with the youth vaping epidemic continuing its alarming rise. According to the Minnesota Student Survey, 26.4% of 11th graders vaped in the past 30 days, which is a 54% increase from 2016. Additionally, the report revealed that 11.1% of eighth-graders vaped in the last 30 days, which is a 95% increase compared to 2016.

"Sadly, with the youth vaping epidemic still rising, we may have squandered an opportunity to make the current generation of kids the first tobacco-free generation. Tobacco use is a serious addiction and Minnesota needs to implement the proven measures to prevent and reduce tobacco use outlined in 'State of Tobacco Control,'" said Pat McKone, senior director of health promotions for the Lung Association.

The "State of Tobacco Control" report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use. The report finds that while Minnesota has taken significant steps to reduce tobacco use, including adding e-cigarettes to the state smokefree law and securing smoking cessation funding, elected officials should do more to ensure all Minnesota residents benefit from reductions in tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

Minnesota's Grades:

  • 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 Lung Association encourages Minnesota to put in place all the public policies called for in "State of Tobacco Control." This year's report noted the need to focus on prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, enforcing Tobacco 21 and continuing to secure and increase funding for proven tobacco prevention strategies.  

This year, Congress failed to pass legislation to eliminate all flavored tobacco products, making the need for state action to end the sale of all flavored products critical. Massachusetts took that historic step by prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes in November 2019, becoming the first such state to do so. The Lung Association urges more states to follow Massachusetts' lead and pass comprehensive laws eliminating flavored tobacco products in 2020.

One powerful tool to address the youth e-cigarette epidemic in Minnesota is increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21. The U.S. Congress finished off 2019 with a huge victory passing a federal law to increase the national tobacco sales age to 21. This law will ensure that all states have a sales age of 21 in 2020.

An investment in prevention is especially important given the skyrocketing number of youth who are vaping.

"Despite Minnesota receiving $693 million from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, the state funds tobacco control efforts at only 33% of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Lung Association believes the funds should be used to support the health of our communities, to prevent tobacco use and help smokers quit, not switch," said McKone.

The question remains, will 2020 be the year that public health is prioritized over tobacco product manufacturers so that another generation is spared the addiction to dangerous tobacco products? As a result of successful lawsuits filed by the American Lung Association and several public health partners, FDA will be required to take several important and long-overdue actions to protect the public health from tobacco products in 2020. These include finalizing graphic warning labels on all cigarette packs by March 15, and requiring all e-cigarette, and most cigar, hookah, pipe and other manufacturers of deemed products to submit applications to FDA by May 12, 2020, to remain on the market in the U.S.

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