Minnesota got mixed grades in the American Lung Association's 19th annual "State of Tobacco Control" report card.
The annual report tracks federal and state efforts to protect people from the adverse impacts of tobacco, grading the state in five areas. Here's what Minnesota got:
- Smoke-free workplace laws – A
- State tobacco taxes – B
- Coverage of and access to services to quit tobacco (cessation services) – B
- Funding for tobacco prevention programs – F
- Ending the sale of flavored tobacco products (a new category in this year's report) – F
The report found the smoking rate for adults is 14.6%. The smoking rate for high schoolers is 5.3%, while the tobacco-use rate for high school students is much higher, at 28%.
“In Minnesota, our tobacco use rates for high school are an unacceptable 28%. The surge in youth vaping combined with the fact that smoking increases the chance of severe COVID-19 symptoms, make it more important than ever for Minnesota to implement the proven measures outlined in ‘State of Tobacco Control’ to prevent and reduce tobacco use,” American Lung Association Senior Director Pat McKone said in a news release.
In Minnesota, the economic cost due to smoking is $2.519 million with 5,910 deaths per year attributed to smoking, the report says.
“State of Tobacco Control 2021 provides an important roadmap on how states like Minnesota and the federal government can put in place the policies proven to have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. Because of COVID-19, we are all thinking more about lung health," McKone said in a statement. "Now is the time for lawmakers in Minnesota to act and take this opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease."
The American Lung Association calls on Minnesota lawmakers to reduce tobacco use by prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, securing sustainable funding for tobacco prevention strategies, and raising the tax on all tobacco products by "significant amounts."
Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday in his budget proposal announcement did suggest an increase in some tobacco-related taxes to help fund other aspects of his budget. Republican lawmakers however called the tax hikes on tobacco "regressive" in its criticisms of the Democratic governor's budget.