The 2018 legislative session saw some great progress towards policies to increase the tobacco age to 21 (Tobacco 21), and to gain long-term funding for smoking cessation services when QUITPLAN Services end. Unfortunately, the legislature did not hear the Tobacco 21 bill despite support from both Democrat and Republican lawmakers. However, while Tobacco 21 has not been considered at the state level thus far, nine Minnesota cities have raised the tobacco age to 21 in the last year. Additional cities are also considering adopting Tobacco 21 policies as well.
Another concern is funding for cessation services as QUITPLAN Services will end in 2020. The state did not allocate any of the $840+ million in tobacco taxes collected in 2017 to cessation services. However, while these policies have not moved forward at the state level, the bipartisan support that Tobacco 21 and cessation funding enjoys is promising for future changes. Tobacco use is Minnesota's leading cause of preventable death and disease, and these policies will help to improve health and save Minnesotan lives.
Lastly, the Physician Advocacy Network wants to extend a huge thank-you to the hundreds of physicians, students, and health care professionals that have supported these efforts during this legislative session. Your efforts make a huge difference!