To the editor:
The leadership recently shown by Rep. Ann Lenczewski (Bloomington) is something Minnesotans can be proud of.
According to recent surveys, a majority of Minnesotans believe our elected officials can do more to keep tobacco beyond kids' reach and help adults quit. We know that increasing the price of tobacco prevents youth from starting to smoke and helps current users to quit.
Last week Lenczewski proposed a $1.60 increase in tobacco prices as part of her tax reform legislation. A letter recently published in the Marshall Independent conceded that underage smoking might be reduced by such a price increase, but the author alleged that most teens that try smoking quit on their own "after a very short trial."
Unfortunately, the statistics don't bear that out.
In fact, statistics from Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General 2012, show that nearly 90 percent of life-long smokers begin smoking before the age 18.
That's why the proposed tobacco price increase is so important. According to ClearWay, Minnesota, the impact of such a price increase will prevent more than 47,700 Minnesota kids from becoming addicted adults, help more than 36,600 current Minnesota smokers to quit and save more than 25,700 Minnesotans from premature smoking-related deaths.
Please urge your legislators to support Rep. Lenczewski's proposal. Governor Dayton also included a tobacco price increase in his proposed budget released last week. One thing we know for sure is that when the price of tobacco goes up, fewer kids will start smoking and more adults will quit.