Health Care Leaders: Tax Bill Helps Tobacco Industry, Hurts Minnesota Youth

St. Paul, MN (May 20, 2016) – Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of Minnesota’s leading health organizations, expressed their disappointment today about the tax bill containing more than $35 million in tax breaks for the tobacco industry over the next three years.

“Each year, 5,100 Minnesotans die from tobacco-related illnesses, and thousands of young people become addicted,” said Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs for ClearWay Minnesota and Co-chair of Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation. “It’s disappointing to see legislators choose tobacco industry profits over the health of our kids.”

Specifically, the bill:

  • Eliminates an annual cigarette tax increase, which is necessary to keep pace with inflation and deter youth from smoking in the future; and
  • Lowers the tax rate on e-cigarettes sold by Big Tobacco, such as VUSE and Mark Ten.

“Lawmakers can play an important role in creating a smoke-free generation,” said Moilanen. “There is a strong and proven correlation between high tobacco prices and lower youth smoking rates. We cannot afford to roll back progress by giving tobacco companies tax breaks. Further, we encourage lawmakers to enact bold policies that protect youth from tobacco, including raising the purchase age to 21 and restricting access to flavored tobacco products.”

About Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation

Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation is a coalition of Minnesota's leading health and other interested organizations. We share a common goal of saving Minnesota youth from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco. Each year in Minnesota, tobacco use is responsible for more than 5,100 deaths and almost $3 billion in preventable health care costs — and 90 percent of adult smokers started before the age of 18. Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation supports policies that reduce youth smoking and help end the death and disease associated with tobacco use.

Partners include: A Healthier Southwest, African American Leadership Forum, Allina Health, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Minnesota, Apple Tree Dental, Association for Nonsmokers – Minnesota, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CentraCare Health, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, ClearWay Minnesota, Essentia Health, Four Corners Partnership, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, HealthEast, HealthPartners, LAAMPP Institute, Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative, Local Public Health Association of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, Medica, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Cancer Alliance, MN Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Minnesota Council of Health Plans, Minnesota Hospital Association, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Oral Health Coalition, Minnesota Public Health Association, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, Rainbow Health Initiative, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, Tobacco Free Alliance and Twin Cities Medical Society.

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    Our Mission

    Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation is a coalition of Minnesota organizations that share a common goal of saving Minnesota youth from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco. Each year in Minnesota tobacco use is responsible for more than 6,300 deaths and more than $3 billion in preventable health care costs and 95 percent of adult smokers started before the age of 21. The coalition supports policies that reduce youth smoking, including keeping tobacco prices high, raising the tobacco sale age to 21, limiting access to candy-, fruit- and menthol-flavored tobacco and funding future tobacco prevention programs.

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