THE MISSION OF CLEARWAY MINNESOTASM
is to enhance life for all Minnesotans by reducing tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure through research, action and collaboration. We pride ourselves on innovating to meet challenges. Together with our partners, we are always working to find new, creative ways to address the problem of tobacco use in our state.
A NEW APPROACH TO QUITTING: NO JUDGMENTS. JUST HELP.
QUITPLAN® Services are effective, science-based programs that have given Minnesota tobacco users free tools to quit since 2001. To date, we have helped more than 100,000 Minnesotans in their efforts to quit tobacco use.
Several changes to the programs were made this year. Recently, we saw increased interest in tools like text messaging, email and social media, which hadn’t been provided by QUITPLAN Services before. We listened, and we now offer text and email support, a quit guide and free two-week starter kits of nicotine patches, lozenges or gum. Minnesota tobacco users can get 24-hour support from quit coaches at the QUITPLAN Helpline (1-888-354-PLAN) and connect with others who are trying to quit at our Facebook page.
Minnesota smokers also told us they wanted a hopeful, nonjudgmental approach to quitting with few barriers. We used this feedback to redesign the QUITPLAN Services website to provide more information and tools for tobacco users as well as online registration for all services. A new ad campaign was also created that highlights the programs and promises “No Judgments. Just Help.” We understand the struggles smokers experience every day, and we hope they will try our free tools to help them quit tobacco.
The new QUITPLAN Services ads show compassion for tobacco users.
ADDRESSING NEW CHALLENGES.
Research shows public policy change is the top driver of smoking declines. In Minnesota, policies like tobacco price increases and secondhand smoke laws have been more effective than any other strategy at reducing tobacco use. This year, we supported two new policies signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton.
The first ensures a smoke-free environment for the nearly 8,000 children in Minnesota’s foster care system, who are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases.
The second policy restricts the use and sales of e-cigarettes. It requires child-resistant packaging for e-cigarette liquids, prohibits e-cigarette use in schools, bans their sales from mall kiosks, requires them to be kept behind the counter or in a locked case in stores, allows stronger local restrictions and ensures penalties for selling to minors. It also prohibits e-cigarette use in several indoor settings, including health care and government facilities, state-owned university buildings, and daycares.
We also led a coalition that supported keeping tobacco prices high in Minnesota. Following a cigarette tax increase in 2013, calls to QUITPLAN Services skyrocketed, and science shows price increases are the best way to keep tobacco out of kids’ hands.
We also partner with organizations working to advance policies at the local level around the state. Our funding allows them to engage in activities specifically aimed at reducing the harm tobacco causes their communities.
These organizations are:
- The Greater Mankato and Northeast Minnesota chapters of the American Lung Association in Minnesota
- The Association for Nonsmokers – Minnesota
- CentraCare Health Foundation (organizing the Crave the Change initiative)
- Clay-Wilkin Community Health Board (organizing PartnerSHIP 4 Health)
- Goodhue County (organizing the 4 Corners Partnership)
- Southwest Health and Human Services (organizing the Southwest Community Health Improvement Program)
NEW KNOWLEDGE, NEW PROGRESS.
Science is at the heart of everything we do at ClearWay Minnesota. All of our activities are based in established or promising research findings, and we work to create new knowledge that will translate into solutions that reduce the burden of tobacco use.
We award grants to organizations proposing to conduct tobacco-related research in Minnesota. This year’s grants focus on topics including cessation among African American smokers, various smoke-free policies and secondhand smoke exposure among children.
A number of this year’s grants focus on the issue of menthol, a flavoring additive in tobacco. Menthol cigarettes increase smoking initiation among youth, may deter quit attempts among current smokers, and are marketed disproportionately to minority communities.
Improving the approach to tobacco use
We also work to improve how tobacco use is addressed by health care systems and insurers.
We fund organizations working to help ensure that addressing tobacco use is integrated into patients’ health care experiences. Research shows that while 94 percent of smokers are asked about smoking by health practitioners, fewer than half are referred to quitting help.
We also are working to ensure that quitting help is a covered benefit for all Minnesotans through their insurance, and to strengthen relationships with state agencies with the goal of helping address tobacco use among low-income smokers.
We work to engage members of diverse communities in work to reduce the harm that commercial tobacco causes them. (“Commercial tobacco” means manufactured products such as cigarettes, not the sacred, traditional uses of tobacco by American Indians and other groups.)
These populations have higher prevalence of tobacco use, are disproportionately harmed by tobacco, are less likely to use cessation services and/or are targeted by the tobacco industry.
Major programs include our Leadership and Advocacy Institute to Advance Minnesota’s Parity for Priority Populations (LAAMPP), a project that trains leaders from diverse populations to explore tobacco control ideas. This year LAAMPP Fellows hosted a listening session on health equity in Minnesota and testified at the Legislature in support of extending smoke-free environments to include foster homes.
We also support Minnesota’s American Indian Nations in their efforts to advance commercial tobacco-free policies on tribal lands. We currently fund five reservations working to advance such policies. Accomplishments this year include the adoption of smoke-free zones by the Upper Sioux Community in central Minnesota.
Board of Directors
This January was the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health.
That report is remembered as a turning point in awareness of the dangers of tobacco use. It began a long period of progress in bringing down smoking rates across the country.
This past year also was a milestone for ClearWay Minnesota. In November, we celebrated our 15th anniversary as an organization dedicated to reducing tobacco use and its related harms in our state. We accomplish this by pursuing initiatives proven to motivate quitting and to prevent kids from starting: public policies that limit access to tobacco, free quit-smoking programs for all Minnesotans, media campaigns that get people thinking and talking about tobacco, and more. Together with other great Minnesota organizations, we’ve helped reduce smoking to its lowest-ever levels in our state.
But there are new challenges on the horizon. In the face of rising cigarette prices and high awareness of the dangers of cigarettes, tobacco manufacturers are reinventing themselves: with kid-friendly flavors, discounts and legal loopholes to make tobacco cheaper, and new, addictive products like e-cigarettes.
At ClearWay Minnesota, we will continue to make advances in reducing smoking prevalence and secondhand smoke exposure, and in improving access to science-based quitting services. Our new Strategic Plan, passed this fiscal year, will guide our work toward these goals in areas of policy, quitting, shaping the environment around tobacco use, and further planning for our future.
The work begun by the Surgeon General in 1964 is still continuing. This Annual Report has showed some of the ways we have contributed to the progress. We are proud of the role we play in reducing tobacco’s harm, and we look forward to new opportunities to come.
Board of Directors
Thomas Weaver: Chair
Joel Swanson: Vice Chair
Bob Boerschel: Treasurer
Daniel Johnson: Secretary
Vernae Hasbargen (Chair through September 2013)
Steven D. McWhirter
Vivian Jenkins Nelsen
Teresa Matsui Sanders
ClearWay Minnesota’s Strategic Plan for 2012-2014 focuses on:
- Supporting policies that reduce tobacco’s harm
- Reducing tobacco-related disparities in diverse communities
- Applying research to reduce tobacco use
- Ensuring quitting help for all Minnesotans
- Planning future work