Minnesota 11th in country for anti-smoking funding, but could do more, report says

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Minnesota has been praised for reducing smoking levels among teenagers, but is still not spending enough on smoking prevention programs, a new report says.

Minnesota ranks 11th in the country for funding anti-smoking programs this year spending around $22.3 million this year, according to a report by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, called Broken Promises to our Children.

But this is just 42.2 percent of the $52.9 million the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the state should be spending, and represents a tiny fraction of the $1.4 billion the state gets every year from tobacco taxes and from the 1998 Tobacco Settlement.

In contrast, the report points out that tobacco companies spend more than $160 million-a-year marketing their products in Minnesota, seven times more than is spent preventing its use, and the effect of tobacco costs the state $2.5 billion a year in health care bills and kills 5,900 people.

What the state does spend, however, is proving effective, according to the campaign's president Matthew L. Myers.

"Minnesota is setting an example for the nation with its strong and sustained efforts to reduce tobacco use, the number one cause of preventable death," he told PRNewswire. "Minnesota's efforts are paying off by reducing smoking, saving lives, and saving health care dollars.

"Tobacco prevention is a smart investment that Minnesota should continue to make."

The report highlights Minnesota's success in reducing the smoking rate among high school students from 18.1 percent in 2011 to 10.6 percent in 2014, which was aided by a $1.60 per pack cigarette tax increase in 2013.

But when releasing these figures, the Minnesota Department for Health noted there had been a rise in high school students trying e-cigarettes, the safety of which is in question.

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids has been studying prevention of smoking since the 1998 Tobacco Settlement, in which the country's biggest tobacco companies agreed to make payments to the majority of U.S. states because of the major costs caused by their products.

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