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Minnesota earns F in tobacco-use prevention, new report says

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Minnesota gets a failing grade for tobacco-use prevention and also for efforts aimed at getting smokers to quit, according to a new report from the American Lung Association.

In the 12th annual "State of Tobacco" report released Wednesday, Minnesota earned better grades in two other areas. The state got a "B" for "cigarette tax," with the report noting that state lawmakers raised the cigarette tax in July from $1.23 to $2.83 per pack. Not long after the hike, cigarette sales were reportedly down in the state, but tax revenue rose.

And Minnesota got an "A" for working toward "smokefree air," the report says, noting a long list of places where smoking is banned, from restaurants and bars to stores and schools.

Minnesota was hardly alone in its failure to adequately fund tobacco-prevention programs, the report says – 40 states got an "F" in that area. Wisconsin got exactly the same grades this year as Minnesota.

Nationally, there has been some good news: U.S. lung cancer rates have been declining, the CDC announced this month. The Lung Association report notes that 43 million Americans, about 18 percent of the population, still smoke. That's down from nearly 53 million – or 42 percent – in 1965.

But the report says that lung cancer still kills more than 158,000 Americans each year and remains the nation’s leading cancer killer, adding that "tobacco is our nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease."

It was 50 years ago that the U.S. Surgeon General first linked cigarette smoking to deadly diseases, and a new report issued just last week expands the list of health problems associated with tobacco use, the Washington Post noted.

State fast facts from the Minnesota section of the Lung Association report:

Economic cost due to smoking: $3.2 billion
Adult smoking rate: 18.8 percent
High school smoking rate: 19.2 percent
Middle school smoking rate: 1.6 percent
Smoking attributable deaths: 5,536

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