Tobacco Cessation Bill Advances at the Legislature

A bill that would dedicate funding to create a tobacco cessation program under Minnesota's Department of Health recently passed the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee with bipartisan support. This bill is critical because QUITPLAN Services, which currently provides free quit-smoking phone counseling and medication to Minnesotans statewide, will close down in March of 2020. Over 150 physicians, medical students and other health care providers have already taken action to let their legislators know they support this life saving legislation. Join them by signing our online postcard today.

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Tobacco 21 Bill Introduced in Minnesota House of Representatives

A bipartisan group of legislators introduce a bill in the House to raise the tobacco sales age to 21 in Minnesota. The bill’s main author, Representative Anselmo (R-Edina) spoke at a press conference alongside TCMS Board Member Dr. Caleb Schultz and other advocates, including youth and members of the Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation coalition. Dr. Schultz was a leader in bringing Tobacco 21 to Edina, the first city to pass the policy last year. He expressed hopes that legislators would support a statewide policy so that all communities can benefit from the lifesaving measure. Bloomington, Plymouth, St. Louis Park and North Mankato have all passed Tobacco 21 policies in the past year. To learn more visit or sign an online postcard to your legislators.


MN Youth Tobacco Use Increases for the First Time in 17 Years

A new survey shows for the first time since 2000, overall youth tobacco use has increased in Minnesota, with 26% of high school students using some form of tobacco or nicotine, up from 24% percent in 2014. This increase is mostly driven by the rapid uptake of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. The new data show one in five high school students use e-cigarettes, a nearly 50% increase since the data were last collected in 2014. The survey also revealed that over 60% of students who use tobacco report using menthol or other flavored tobacco products. 

The Physician Advocacy Network's Medical Director Dr. Pete Dehnel spoke at a press conference revealing the new data. "Research has found that even in small doses, nicotine exposure in adolescence causes long-lasting changes in brain development, which can have negative implications for adolescents’ learning, memory, attention, and behavior," said Dr. Dehenl. "No amount of nicotine is safe for children and youth." Learn more from the Minnesota Department of Health


Enhanced QUITPLAN® Helpline Services for People with Mental Illnesses and/or Substance Use Disorders

QUITPLAN Services recognizes that individuals with a history of mental illness and/or substance use disorders smoke at higher rates than the general population, smoke more cigarettes per day, and may be at greater risk of negative health effects as a result. To address these concerns, QUITPLAN Services offers a new treatment approach for participants who report one or more mental health conditions. With this new service offering, we hope to help QUITPLAN Helpline participants successfully quit and experience improved health outcomes. 

Enhanced Services
The enhanced services offer: 

  • 7 coaching calls to provide additional support during all phases of quitting. 
  • 12-week regimen of combination Nicotine Replacement Therapy (for age 18 and over) 
  • Communication with the participant’s health care provider with tips for the provider to help support the participant in quitting.
  • A team of specially trained coaches. 

The QUITPLAN Helpline (telephone counseling) is available to uninsured and underinsured Minnesotans. All Minnesotans have access to telephone counseling through their health plan or QUITPLAN Services. 

For more information, contact Randi Lachter, Senior Cessation Manager, ClearWay Minnesota at  You can also find helpful information about tobacco cessation health coverage in Minnesota from the American Lung Association's fact sheet

Have You Looked Upstream Lately?

On January 11th, TCMS's Physician Advocacy Network hosted an event called "Have You Looked Upstream Lately" for medical students at the University of Minnesota. The event highlighted the power of physician advocacy in advancing public health and featured local physician and medical student advocates as presenters. Caleb Schultz, MD, MPH, discussed how he led Edina to become the first city in Minnesota to adopt a Tobacco 21 policy, and medical students Alex Feng and Dave Bergstrand shared their experiences advocating for menthol tobacco restrictions in Minneapolis and St. Paul. If you'd like to learn more about becoming an advocate, contact Grace Higgins at


American Indians in Minnesota Reclaiming Traditional Tobacco


The Star Tribune recently reported on the work American Indians are doing in Minnesota to reduce the use of commercial tobacco and increase understanding of sacred tobacco. American Indians have the highest smoking rate  of any racial group in Minnesota, with 59% of adults smoking compared to 14% of the entire adult population. Read more from the Star Tribune and learn more about sacred tobacco from Clearway


2017 Policy Victories

Last year was an exciting year the Physician Advocacy Network and tobacco policies in Minnesota! In May, Edina became the first city in Minnesota to raise the tobacco sales age to 21 years old followed by Bloomington, Plymouth and St. Louis Park. St. Cloud also passed a resolution recommending that the state legislature pass a Tobacco 21 policy, and Robbinsdale passed a resolution to consider Tobacco 21 sometime in 2018. 

Minneapolis and St. Paul both passed ground-breaking policies that restrict menthol tobacco to adult-only tobacco stores.St. Louis Park prohibited the sale of candy, sweet, and fruity flavored tobacco products in stores. Robbinsdale also restricted the sale of flavored tobacco to tobacco stores and set a minimum price for cigars. These are just some of the important policies that passed throughout the state!

Physicians, students and other health care providers played a critical role in passing these policies. The Physician Advocacy Network deeply appreciates your support, and looks forward to continuing to reduce the harm of tobacco on our state in 2018.


Behavioral Health and Tobacco Use in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Health has a new factsheet and resources available. 

Despite overall declines in adult cigarette use, some populations still smoke at higher rates, including people with behavioral health issues such as mental illness and substance use disorders. For people in substance abuse treatment, quitting can increase long-term abstinence from alcohol and other drugs.

Communities can take steps to reduce tobacco use among people with behavioral health issues.

  • Change norms around tobacco treatment for people with behavioral health issues.
  • Integrate tobacco screening and treatment referral.
  • Implement comprehensive tobacco-free grounds policies.

Learn more about Behavioral Health and Tobacco Use in Minnesota.


Cities Protect Youth From Tobacco

It's been an exciting month for local policy! Bloomington and Plymouth both passed ordinances raising the minimum tobacco sales age to 21 years old. Robbinsdale passed an ordinance restricting flavored tobacco products (except for menthol) to adult only stores and established a minimum price for flavored cigars. St. Louis Park also passed a policy restricting flavored tobacco to adult only stores, making it the first city in Minnesota to pass both Tobacco 21 and flavor restrictions. Alexandria added e-cigarettes to the city's clean indoor air policy, removing them from bars and restaurants. The Physician Advocacy Network would like to congratulate these cities on their leadership and thank the physicians who advocated on behalf of these policies.