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Friday, July 1, 2011

New Poll Says Minnesotans Support Raising Price of Cigarettes to Help Solve State Budget Crisis

Raise it for Health Coalition urges state leaders to protect youth by raising tobacco’s price

ST. PAUL, Minn. (June 29, 2011) – Nearly three out of five Minnesotans support an increase in the price of cigarettes as a way to raise revenue and help solve the State’s current budget problem, according to a new public opinion poll conducted in mid-June on behalf of the Raise it for Health coalition. Majority support spread across most demographic groups, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Of those who supported raising the price, 70 percent said they would be in favor of increasing the price by at least $1.50 per pack of cigarettes.

After the poll was fielded, the Minnesota Department of Revenue issued its revenue projection for raising the price of tobacco, concluding that a $1.50 increase per pack would yield nearly $400 million per biennium.

Dr. Bill Morris, president of Decision Resources Ltd., the firm that administered the poll, noted that “while Minnesotans are understandably cautious about new taxes, they continue to believe increasing the tobacco tax – even by as much as $1.50 – is one of the choices that should be part of the budget solution.”

Minnesota, with the support of many of the health organizations in the coalition, has made great strides in protecting people’s health through a decade of successful tobacco policies. Smoke-free workplace laws, support services to help people who are addicted to tobacco and laws that protect youth from tobacco have resulted in a significant decline in Minnesota’s smoking rate from 22 percent in 1999 to 16 percent in 2010. But the human and economic costs of tobacco in Minnesota continue to be staggering:

  • 625,000 Minnesota adults and 56,000 Minnesota high school students still smoke

  • Each year smoking costs Minnesota 5,135 lives and nearly $3 billion in excess medical costs to treat diseases caused by smoking – which equates to $554 for every man, woman and child in the state.

  • The tobacco industry continues to spend millions each year marketing its products to youth, women and populations that experience health disparities, and

  • Smokeless tobacco use has increased across all Minnesota demographics.

“Cheap tobacco products aren’t good for anyone, and higher tobacco prices are a proven and effective way to keep youth from ever starting to smoke and to make it easier for more people to quit,” said Matt Schafer, Minnesota State Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society. “In fact, when the 2005 Health Impact Fee raised the price of cigarettes, calls to the various stop smoking support lines increased significantly.”

The Raise it for Health coalition is encouraging Minnesotans to contact their state representatives and tell them that raising the price of tobacco is a win-win solution that should be seriously considered during the budget negotiations. For more information about the Raise it for Health coalition visit


Raise it for Health is a coalition of Minnesota’s leading health and nonprofit organizations that share a common goal of reducing tobacco use. More than 5,100 Minnesotans still die from tobacco-related disease each year and tobacco continues to be a major driver of the state’s escalating health care costs. Raise it for Health supports significantly raising the price of tobacco products in Minnesota because it is a proven way to prevent children from starting to use tobacco and helping existing tobacco users quit.

Raise it for Health partners include: AARP Minnesota, Allina Hospitals & Clinics, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Association for Nonsmokers – Minnesota, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Catalyst, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, ClearWay MinnesotaSM, Courage Center, HealthPartners, LAAMPP, LifeScience Alley, Local Public Health Association, MAATEN, Mayo Clinic, Medica, Metro-MN Oncology Nursing Society, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Cancer Alliance, Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Minnesota Hospital Association, Minnesota Council of Health Plans, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Public Health Association, Park Nicollet, School Nurse Organization of Minnesota, Twin Cities Medical Society and University of Minnesota Physicians Heart at Fairview.

Six hundred and twenty-five randomly selected Minnesotans completed a telephone survey administered by Decision Resources, Ltd., of Minneapolis from June 9 - 17, 2011. The results of this study are projectable to the universe of adult Minnesota residents within 4 percent in 95 out of 100 cases.

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