Get the Facts: Minnesota’s 2013 Tobacco Tax Increase Is Improving Health
The tobacco industry has a well-known track record of selling dangerous, addictive products and misleading the public about their health effects. That was true in the past and is still true today. Smoking continues to be a leading cause of preventable death and disease in Minnesota. Each year, 5,100 Minnesotans die from tobacco-related diseases, while the annual cost of smoking in Minnesota is estimated to be $2.87 billion in direct health care costs. In addition, more than 55,000 Minnesota middle and high school students are using tobacco.
Tobacco companies know they need to hook users at an early age because 90 percent of adult smokers start before age 18. In fact, each year the tobacco industry spends more than $164 million in Minnesota alone marketing its deadly products, often using strategies that are proven to be successful with children and adolescents.
Public health groups have worked aggressively to shed light on the tobacco industry’s tactics, including exposing its political strategies. A recent example of a tobacco industry tactic is a June 2014 report from Dunham and Associates titled, “The Economic Consequences of the Recent Cigarette Tax Increase in Minnesota.” This report is consistent with the industry’s past efforts to fight tobacco price increases. It fails to meet accepted standards for economic research, and a quick look at real-time data suggests the report’s assumptions and conclusions are not based on the actual experiences in Minnesota and its border states.
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