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Groups see spike in smokers trying to quit following tax hike

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Minnesota's increased cigarette tax that took effect July 1 is forcing more and more smokers to find ways to kick the habit.

A free stop-smoking program, QuitPlan Services operated by ClearWay Minnesota, says they received 900 calls in the first two weeks of the month, a 256 percent increase compared to the same time period last year, WCCO reports.

QuitPlan's website also saw a jump in traffic, up 289 percent from 2012.

The Pioneer Press says Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota had 186 people enrolled in their quit-smoking program during the first two weeks of July compared to only 69 people enrolled in that time span in 2012.

The tax hike, now the sixth-highest in the country, brings the average price of a pack of cigarettes to about $7.50 and is projected generate more than $400 million in state revenue over the next two years.

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