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MORE SMOKING: Minn. drops to 11th in national adult smoking rank

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  • Minn. drops to 11th in national adult smoking rankMore>>

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A new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday found more Minnesotans are smoking, dropping the state from 7th best in the nation for adult smoking down to 11th.

The CDC estimates that about 19 percent of Minnesota adults currently smoke, up from the 2009 comparison that found 17.6 percent of Minnesotans were smoking.

Dr. Edward Ehlinger, commissioner of health, said that agency isn't alone in delivering concerning information on smoking rates and health in the state.

"The fact that Minnesota has dropped out of the top 10 on this list -- and that we got a failing grade from the American Lung Association this month -- highlights that we need to do more to prevent smoking, tobacco use among youths and to help adults quit," Ehlinger said, referring to the State of Tobacco Control 2013 Report released on Jan. 16.

Health officials estimate that tobacco use results in about $2.87 billion in medical costs annually in the state, and Ehlinger said that's simply too much.

"Eleventh isn't good enough for Minnesota," Ehlinger said. "We must reduce this toll on our families and our state."

Ehlinger said the most effective way to curb youth smoking is to raise the price of a pack of cigarettes. Gov. Mark Dayton recently proposed a 94-cent-per-pack tax increase to bring the cost in line with Wisconsin.

Currently, Minnesota's cigarette tax rate ranks 28th in the nation. Officials say upping the tax is projected to decrease youth smoking by 11 percent, keep about 25,000 kids smoke free and lead 19,000 adults to quit. Officials say that could prevent as many as 13,700 Minnesotans from premature death.

It's estimated that cigarette smoking led to the premature deaths of 5,135 Minnesotans in 2007, accounting for one in every seven deaths overall.

The CDC's report also found that nationwide, smoking rates are still high despite progress in efforts to reduce tobacco use through smoke-free policies, media campaigns, high prices and improved access to cessation services and tools.

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