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Keely Ihry, Moorhead, Published June 07 2013

Letter: Raise the price of tobacco

In response to the May 28 article “Minnesota stores face loss of revenue after cigarette tax hike,” Clay County Public Health would like to applaud Josh Larson for resolving to quit smoking. His reaction demonstrates exactly what we in the public health community knew a tobacco price increase would achieve – a change in behavior and reduced smoking rates.

Raising the price of tobacco has proved to be the most effective way to help current smokers like Larson quit and prevent kids from ever starting, while raising revenue for our state and, above all else, saving lives.

Among adults, studies show that by raising the tobacco tax by 10 percent, an estimated 2 percent will stop smoking. The state estimates that with the new tax, 36,000 current smokers will quit and 50,000 Minnesota kids will never start. When looking at the cost of tobacco on Minnesota, we know that smoking costs the state

$3 billion annually in excess health care costs. That means every man, woman and child in Minnesota pays an extra $554 each year to cover the cost of tobacco-related health care services.

Raising the price of tobacco will make our community healthier, and we should be celebrating this victory.

Ihry is PartnerSHIP 4 Health tobacco coordinator, Clay County Public Health.