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Young adults lead the way as smoking levels fall to lowest on record

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The number of smokers in Minnesota is at its lowest level in recorded history, with the fall particularly dramatic among young adults.

Health officials say doubling of the state tobacco tax in 2013 coupled with public health advertising have proved successful in reducing the overall smoking rate in Minnesota to 14.4 percent, the Star Tribune reports, the lowest it has been since a statewide survey began 15 years ago.

The fall is highest among 18 to 24-year-olds, the newspaper notes, which for the first time is not the age group with the highest smoking rate as it fell from 21.8 percent to 15.3 percent.

WCCO reports that the rate is now highest among 25 to 44-year-olds, with the survey finding that 19 percent of this age group admits to being smokers.

The news station says that the increase in tobacco tax, from $1.60 a pack to $3.35, in 2013 prompted 44 percent of smokers to attempt to quit. However, the Star Tribune notes that only 19 percent were successful.

Smoking levels are at its highest in northeastern Minnesota, with the Grand Rapids Herald Review noting the rate stands at 18.3 percent, higher than the 17.3 percent national average.

The rise of the e-cigarette

While the health benefits of e-cigarettes continue to be the subject of debate, the release of the survey, conducted every four years, shows the growing role they are playing in helping people quit cigarettes.

Nearly 6 percent of Minnesota adults say they had use an electronic cigarette in the past 30 days in 2014, compared to less than 1 percent in 2010, and of those using the devices, 11.7 percent have never smoked, the Fargo Forum reports.

The survey found that 45 percent of smokers who kicked the habit in the past year said they used the e-cigarettes in the process.

Marriage also appears big factor in getting people to quit, with the Star Tribune noting that two-thirds of those successful quit were married.

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