Minn. Smoking Ranking Drops

Posted at: 01/29/2013 10:57 AM
Updated at: 01/29/2013 11:05 AM
By: Brittany Falkers

Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in Minnesota and the U.S.  Now, a new report form the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that smoking is up in the state.

The report, released Friday, ranks Minnesota as the 11th best, or lowest, state for adult smoking.  That is down from 2009 when the state was in the top ten at seven, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

"This report shows that far too many Minnesotans are still using tobacco products, 11th isn't good enough for Minnesota," Commissioner of Health Dr. Edward Ehlinger said to MDH.  He says, in order to curb youth smoking, the state must raise the price.

In an effort to do just that Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton proposed a 94 cents-a-pack tax increase, according to MDH.  This would put Minnesota on par with Wisconsin's cigarette tax.  Right now, Minnesota's cigarette excise tax rates 28th among the states, according to MDH.

This tax increase is projected to have serious health benefits including an 11 percent decrease in youth smoking.  It is also estimated to keep 25,800 kids from smoking, cause 19,300 adult smokers to quit, and save 13,700 from premature death, according to MDH.

"The fact that Minnesota dropped out of the top ten on this list and that we got a failing grade from the American Lung Association this month highlights that we need to do more to prevent smoking tobacco use among youths and to help adults quit," Ehlinger said, referring to the State of Tobacco Control 2013 Report.

The CDC report also confirms that while the country has made progress reducing smoking, smoking rates are still too high.  20 percent of adults and 18.1 percent of high school students still smoke and smoking declines have slowed in recent years, according to MDH.