Health leaders to House: Keep tobacco prices high to keep kids from smoking

St. Paul, MN (03/30/17) – Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of 50 of Minnesota’s leading health organizations, expressed their continued disappointment today about the House tax bill, as it was debated by members on the floor. The bill contains tax breaks that benefit the tobacco industry and could reverse progress made toward reducing smoking by adults and kids.

 

“Lawmakers had a chance today to preserve the progress we’ve made toward a smoke-free generation in Minnesota,” said Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs for ClearWay Minnesota and Co-Chair of Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation. “Unfortunately, despite multiple attempts to remove them, the provisions that lower prices on tobacco products stayed in the bill. Legislators should have prioritized the health of our kids over tobacco industry profits.”

 

Specifically, the bill:

  • Reduces the maximum tax on so-called premium cigars from $3.50 to $.50 – an 85 percent cut. It also changes the definition of these cigars, which would expand this tax cut to more products.
  • Eliminates the annual cigarette tax increase, which is important to keep pace with inflation and deter youth from smoking in the future.

“As the tax bill is negotiated in conference committee, we hope that the final version doesn’t include benefits for an industry that spends more than $100 Million marketing their deadly products in our state each year,” said Moilanen. “Our leaders should focus on common-sense policies to end youth smoking in Minnesota.”

 

ABOUT MINNESOTANS FOR A SMOKE-FREE GENERATION

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. 95 percent of adult smokers started before the age of 21. The coalition supports policies that prevent initiation and 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.

 

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, Becker County Energize, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CentraCare Health, Children’s Defense Fund – Minnesota, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, ClearWay MinnesotaSM, Comunidades Latinos Unidas En Servicio – CLUES, Essentia Health, Four Corners Partnership, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, HealthEast, HealthPartners, Hennepin County Medical Center, Hope Dental Clinic, Indigenous Peoples Task Force, ISAIAH, LAAMPP Institute, Lake Region Healthcare, Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative, Local Public Health Association of Minnesota, March of Dimes, Mayo Clinic, Medica, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers, Minnesota Cancer Alliance, Minnesota 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, Model Cities of St. Paul, Inc., NAMI Minnesota, North Memorial Health Care, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, Perham Health, Rainbow Health Initiative, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, Tobacco Free Alliance, Twin Cities Medical Society and WellShare International. Find out more at: smokefreegenmn.org. 

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    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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