Smoking still more common among Minnesotans with low incomes, less education

Some groups still smoke at disproportionately higher rates than others.

Smoking rates are dropping in Minnesota, but it's still a pretty big public health issue.

According to updated data from the Minnesota Department of Health, 16 percent of adults in the state are smokers. That's down 10 percent from 2013, the department says.

Many officials, including Gov. Mark Dayton, credit the increased tax on tobacco – which in 2013 added $1.60 to a pack of cigarettes – for the drop.

In a recent survey from the health department, 62.8 percent of Minnesotans who quit the habit said the price increase was the main motivation, while 61 percent of all smokers said the price hike had at least made them consider whether to continue.

But nearly one in six Minnesotans are still smoking. And like years past, this report shows it's still more common among certain groups of people: adults who never graduated high school, people with low incomes, and members of some racial groups.

Here's a look at the updated data

In 2015, 35 percent of Minnesotans who did not graduate from high school were current smokers. The number of smokers among high school graduates and those with some college has remained relatively stable since 2011, the report says.

People who make less money are more likely to smoke – 28 percent of adults who made less than $25,000 a year were smokers in 2015, while only 9 percent of adults who made $75,000 or more were smokers.

When it comes to racial groups, American Indians and multi-racial non-Hispanic groups had the highest smoking rates (37 percent) in 2015, while Asian Minnesotans were the least likely to smoke – only about 8 percent.

Men are also slightly more likely than women to smoke. The report shows 18 percent of males in Minnesota currently smoke, compared to 15 percent of women. And being a former smoker is also more common among men (47 percent) than women (39 percent).

Any good news?

Well, a lot more Minnesotans are giving up cigarettes every day.

And the people most at risk – young adults – are smoking less. The number of smokers between 18 to 24 years old went from 25 percent in 2011 to 17 percent in 2015.

The health department says more work is needed, because most smokers start in adolescence or early adulthood. That's why some Minnesota cities want to raise the age requirement for tobacco sales.

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