Minn. tobacco tax increase boosts smoking-cessation program's enrollment

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota reports 170% increase in enrollment over first two weeks of July 2012

EAGAN, Minn. — An increase in tobacco taxes in Minnesota has nearly tripled enrollment in a health plan's smoking-cessation program.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota said enrollment in its Stop Smoking Support program had nearly tripled since a $1.60 increase in the state tobacco tax took effect at the beginning of this month. The program enrolled 186 people in the first two weeks of July, compared with 69 people in the first two weeks of July 2012.

"Blue Cross advocated for this legislation because price increases have proven to be the most effective way to encourage people to quit using tobacco and ultimately live longer, healthier lives," Blue Cross Center for Prevention director Janelle Waldock said. "While our members represent only a segment of Minnesota residents, this early surge in demand for our cessation services is a positive indicator that the price increase is having its desired effect."

The most recent Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey had found that smoking among adults in the state dropped from 19.1% to 16.1% between 2003 and 2010.

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