The cost of smoking: $3B in extra health costs, 6,300 deaths every year

And that's just in the state of Minnesota.
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Let's get one thing out of the way.

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On top of that, it's costing the state of Minnesota billions of dollars and thousands of lives.

That's according to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, which recently put out a summary of its new Health Care Costs and Smoking in Minnesota report.

They found smoking is responsible for $3.19 billion in extra medical costs every year – that's basically $593 for every person in the state.

They put into perspective by noting that could pay for 6,380 fire trucks, 200 libraries, 58,000 four-year degrees, 79,750 jobs with a $40,000 salary, or 10 state capitol renovations.

Smoking is also responsible for 6,312 deaths each year.

Blue Cross in the summary calls the cost of smoking a "substantial burden" for the state, even though the smoking rate is down.

The most recent Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey found that in 2014, the rate had declined to 14.4 percent – the lowest ever recorded. It was attributed to a combination of higher tobacco prices, smoke-free policies and public health cessation programs.

But some groups still smoke at disproportionately higher rates than others.

Keep that 14 percent figure in mind – the Native Americans smoking rate is at 59 percent, while it's at 24 percent among Somalis in the state, Blue Cross says.

In addition, people who are poor have higher rates of smoking-related illnesses than the general population. And people suffering from mental health issues smoke at nearly twice the rate.

Because of those disparities, "many communities are at a greater risk for premature death and disease, both through the direct impacts of smoking, as well as exposure to secondhand smoke," Janelle Waldock with Blue Cross said in the summary.

The group Minnesotans For a Smoke Free Generation – which Blue Cross is a co-chair of – responded by saying people need to take "common sense steps" to keep kids away from cigarettes. That includes raising the tobacco age to 21, and restricting access to tobacco products that have kid-friendly flavors.

The group is a coalition of 50 organizations that work to keep young people from smoking.

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