Minnesota smoking rate drops to lowest-ever-recorded 14.4 percent — higher cigarette taxes get credit

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According to a survey of 9,000 people from Clear Way Minnesota and Minnesota Department of Health, the statewide smoking rate has dropped to 14.4 percent, the lowest ever recorded and down from 16.1 percent in 2010. That number is also down a whopping 35 percent from the 1999 smoking rate of 22.1 percent.

When asked what factor played an important role in helping people quit, the No. 1 reason was the increased cost of cigarettes. Minnesota’s state cigarette tax was raised $1.60 in 2013 and is one of the highest in the country at $2.83 a pack (only New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Washington are higher). 63 percent of the survey respondents said the new price of cigarettes helped encourage them to quit smoking.

The survey also found that teens and young adults (18-24), the age group with the highest smoking rate normally, no longer as the highest smoking rate in Minnesota (likely because of e-cigs).

Interesting info in the survey about e-cigarettes. The survey found that 66 percent of people reporting using e-cigs were also smoking cigarettes (telling me they were using e-cigs to get around smoking bans in workplaces, bars, etc.). 22.5 percent were former smokers while 11 percent were people (ie, kids) who had never smoked a cigarette. So, at least according to this one survey, fewer than one-fourth of the people using e-cigs used them as a smoking cessation tool, while over 10 percent were likely kids who had never smoked a cigarette in their lives. To me, that does not bolster the case for e-cigs well.

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