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.
Higher tobacco prices = lives saved
Raise it for Health
This spring, Governor Mark Dayton signed a new tobacco tax into law.
The law raised the price of cigarettes by $1.60 per pack and took effect July 1.
The largest tobacco price increase in Minnesota history, the change raised us to seventh in the nation for cigarette taxation (an indicator of excellence in tobacco control).
Research shows that raising cigarette prices reduces smoking by youth and adults. This change is projected to:
- Prevent more than 47,000 kids from smoking
- Save more than 25,000 Minnesotans from tobacco-related deaths
- Help more than 36,000 smokers quit
- Save $1.65 billion in long-term health care costs
The law was a victory for Minnesota, for health… and for ClearWay Minnesota. With our partners in the Raise it for Health coalition, we organized efforts to educate about the benefits Minnesota would see from an increase.
In addition to making cigarettes more expensive, the law also raised the price on other tobacco products and closed legal loopholes for youth-friendly “little cigars.”
Immediately after the new law took effect, we saw a 250 percent spike in volumes for QUITPLAN® Services, our free programs to help Minnesota tobacco users quit.
Health advocates from all over the state made a huge difference in the movement to raise tobacco prices.
Hundreds of supporters came to the State Capitol in St. Paul during a snowstorm to talk with lawmakers about how increasing the price would keep cigarettes out of the hands of kids. Lawmakers listened.
This past year, ClearWay Minnesota funded four organizations to conduct tobacco control initiatives in communities around the state. Grantees supported raising tobacco taxes, helped apartments and college campuses go smoke-free and highlighted the ongoing problem of tobacco advertising in stores.
- American Lung Association in Minnesota
- CentraCare Health Foundation
- Goodhue County (coordinating the 4 Corners Partnership)
- Southwest Health and Human Services
Major grantee accomplishments this year include passage of an ordinance prohibiting tobacco sales
at pharmacies in Rock County (the first such policy in the state) and the adoption of a strong smoke-
free policy by the St. Cloud Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
A Beach Party – With a Message
In March, our grantee the American Lung Association in Minnesota hosted a “beach party” on frozen Silver Lake for Kick Butts Day, a national day for raising awareness of quitting tobacco. Community members released biodegradable lanterns into the wind, toasted marshmallows and expressed support for raising cigarette prices.
Five Years of Freedom to Breathe
October 1, 2012, marked the fifth anniversary of the Freedom to Breathe Act, which made all Minnesota workplaces, including bars and restaurants, smoke-free. The law is now supported by 85 percent of Minnesotans.
20,000 Quitters and Counting
QUITPLAN® Services helps Minnesota tobacco users quit. We provide free counseling and medications to Minnesotans and connect them to quitting programs. Since the program began in 2001, more than 20,000 Minnesotans have used QUITPLAN Services to successfully quit.
Science shows the link between cigarette price increases and quitting, and after a new cigarette tax was passed in 2013, calls to the QUITPLAN Helpline and visits to quitplan.com jumped more than 250 percent.
A TV ad directing smokers to quit-smoking help began airing in Minnesota in advance of a cigarette tax increase this summer. The graphic ad shows how smoking creates fat and cholesterol build-up in the arteries.
Helping Minnesotans Quit
ClearWay Minnesota is working to make sure all Minnesotans have access to comprehensive
quitting services. Focus areas include ensuring that all health care coverage includes tobacco cessation, that addressing tobacco becomes a routine part of patients’ health care experience and that more smokers are connected to quitting resources.
The QuitCash Challenge™
Adam Akida of Dundas was the lucky winner of the 2013 QuitCash Challenge. Adam successfully quit smoking for the entire month of April, and his name was drawn from a pool of more than 3,600 entrants to receive the grand prize of $5,000.
Adam started smoking in high school and got a lot of support from his mother and stepfather, both nurses, while he was quitting. He plans to put some of his winnings toward the college courses he’s taking.
Driving Smoking Declines
This year, a study by ClearWay Minnesota’s Research Director Dr. Raymond Boyle found tobacco pricing is the largest driver of smoking declines in Minnesota. Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the research showed that price increases accounted for 43 percent of smoking declines since 1993, with smoke-free policies, media campaigns, quit-smoking services and youth access laws also contributing.
Tobacco Coupons = Cheaper Addiction
A University of Minnesota study in Tobacco Control found that aggressive couponing and other price-minimizing strategies make Minnesota smokers less likely to quit. The University used ClearWay Minnesota research data for the study, which was then promoted by ClearWay Minnesota and our partners.
Impact of Menthol Cigarettes
This year we awarded research grants for three studies on the impact of menthol cigarettes in Minnesota. The grants, to the University of Minnesota and the Public Health Law Center, will focus on menthol use and quitting by African Americans and on policy options for restricting menthol.
Menthol cigarettes increase smoking initiation among youth, make it harder for smokers to break free of addiction and are disproportionately marketed to minorities.
Minority communities suffer disproportionately from tobacco’s harm, and ClearWay Minnesota partners with members of African American, American Indian, Asian American, Chicano Latino and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) populations to increase their capacity to conduct tobacco control work.
Reaching Indian Country
We support American Indian Nations in their efforts to promote safe and healthy environments, to reduce commercial tobacco abuse such as cigarette smoking, and to prevent exposure to secondhand smoke in workspaces, including restaurants, bars and tribal casinos.
ClearWay Minnesota has developed a Tribal Tobacco Education and Policy Initiative Framework that seeks to create commercial tobacco-free tribal lands by:
- Restoring traditional and sacred tobacco use;
- Addressing and reducing tobacco industry marketing and influence;
- Creating formal and informal smoke-free policies and systems changes on reservations; and
- Helping American Indian businesses and casinos to go smoke-free.
LAAMPP – Creating Leaders
The Leadership and Advocacy Institute to Advance Parity for Minnesota’s Priority Populations (LAAMPP) is a project that trains leaders from diverse populations to explore tobacco control ideas in their own communities. LAAMPP alumni have also gone on to make sure diverse community perspectives are represented in public health efforts.
LAAMPP Fellows testified at the Legislature in support of a cigarette tax increase, educating lawmakers about the burden tobacco puts on minorities and the poor.
Advertising agency Clarity Coverdale Fury partners with ClearWay Minnesota to create campaigns that educate about tobacco’s harm and motivate smokers to quit.
Still a Problem
Three new TV ads, the website www.stillaproblem.com and other campaign elements asked Minnesotans to remember that smoking kills more people than alcohol, murders, car accidents, AIDS, illegal drugs and suicide combined.
In 2012 ClearWay Minnesota launched a new advertising campaign showing Minnesotans that tobacco is still an urgent problem in our state.
Board of Directors
This year has been one of great accomplishment. With passage of a new cigarette tax, which will prevent thousands of kids from smoking and save countless lives, Minnesota is again leading the way in public health and tobacco control.
The tobacco price increase was one of many successes that we and our partners helped to bring about this year. But we cannot stop now. The tobacco industry is constantly evolving – and we must be ready, informing our efforts with the best science, and innovating to meet the challenges that remain for us.
I have served as Board Chair for two years, and have been a Board Member since 2007. Many achievements have been made in that time: a statewide smoke-free law, groundbreaking research, renowned media campaigns, inroads built with hard-to-reach populations, and an additional 10,000 Minnesotans using QUITPLAN Services to quit. Our smoking rates are at historic lows, and I am proud of the role ClearWay Minnesota played in making these accomplishments possible.
As ClearWay Minnesota plans for our remaining life, I know we will continue to be at the forefront of reducing tobacco’s harm, for all Minnesotans – and I look forward to seeing what those years will bring.
Board of Directors
Vernae Hasbargen: Chair
Jim Rhodes: Vice Chair
James Deal: Treasurer
Joy Rikala: Secretary
Cynthia Bemis Abrams
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
Former Board Chair C. Everett Koop, 1916-2013
In February, the world lost a legend in the fight against tobacco when former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop passed away at age 96. Dr. Koop was one of the most visible health champions in history, producing landmark reports on smoking and requiring stronger warning labels on cigarettes.
Dr. Koop was a founding honorary co-chair of ClearWay Minnesota when we were created in 1998, and advised other founders as they set up our organization. In 2008, he returned to Minnesota to deliver the keynote address at our 10th anniversary symposium. He will be deeply missed by the tobacco control community in Minnesota.