Taxes and Bans Credited for Decline in Minnesota Smoking Rate

Just 17 percent of adults in Minnesota were smokers last year, down from 22.1 percent in 1999, with declines continuing even as smoking rates flatten out nationally, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Sept. 9.

The data suggest that 164,000 Minnesota residents have quit smoking in the past 8 years, prompted in part by higher cigarette taxes and indoor-smoking bans imposed in many communities in the state. Minnesota now has a statewide ban on smoking in indoor public places.

Researchers found that 43 percent of smokers said that the 75-cent-per-pack tax increase approved in 2005 made them think about quitting. Four percent said they actually had quit because of the tax.

The smoking rate in Minnesota is one of the lowest in the U.S., trailing only California, Utah, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The study was conducted by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Public Health, and ClearWay Minnesota.

The study found that while smoking fell sharply among young adults overall, it remained high among those who did not attend college.

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