Minnesota Tobacco Tax Increase is Big Win for Kids and Health

Statement of Matthew L. Myers President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, DC — It is terrific news for Minnesota’s kids and health that the Legislature has voted to increase the state cigarette tax by $1.60 per pack and also increase the tax on other tobacco products. The tobacco tax increase is truly a win-win-win solution for Minnesota — a health win that will reduce tobacco use and save lives, a financial win that will help to balance the state budget and fund essential programs, and a political win that polls show is popular with voters. We look forward to Governor Mark Dayton signing this legislation into law.
We applaud Governor Dayton and legislative leaders for siding with kids over the tobacco industry by supporting the tobacco tax increase. We also congratulate the Raise It for Health Coalition that has fought tirelessly to reduce tobacco use and save lives in Minnesota.
The evidence is clear that increasing the cigarette tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids. Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by about 6.5 percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent. Minnesota can expect the $1.60 cigarette tax increase will:

  • Prevent more than 47,700 Minnesota kids from becoming smokers
  • Spur more than 36,600 current adult smokers to quit
  • Save more than 25,700 Minnesota residents from premature, smoking-caused deaths
  • Save more than $1.65 billion in future health care costs.

The state projects that the $1.60 cigarette tax increase and increased taxes on other tobacco products will raise $434 million in new revenue over the next two years (fiscal years 2014-15).
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Minnesota, claiming 5,500 lives each year and costing the state $2 billion annually in health care bills. While Minnesota has made significant progress in reducing youth smoking, 18 percent of high school students still smoke and 6,800 more kids become regular smokers every year.
With Minnesota’s increase to $2.83 per pack, the average state cigarette tax will be $1.51 per pack. We call on states across the nation to significantly increase the tobacco tax to reduce tobacco use and its devastating health and financial toll.