A new collaborative study found positive effects from Minnesota’s comprehensive statewide tobacco control program, including more than 4,000 lives saved and over $5 billion in saved health care and productivity costs. Conducted by ClearWay Minnesota and HealthPartners Institute, the research validates two decades’ worth of smoking prevention and cessation efforts at a time when funding for such efforts will soon run out.
“These findings show the importance of investing in tobacco prevention and cessation, both statewide and locally,” said study coauthor Ann St. Claire, Director of Evaluation and Survey Research at ClearWay Minnesota. “The benefits of tobacco control efforts accrue gradually over time, and we know that even now the impact of these programs is continuing to grow. But with the impending end of ClearWay Minnesota, big changes are on the horizon. In order for these effects to continue growing, Minnesota will need to continue and expand similar efforts into the future.”
ClearWay Minnesota, a nonprofit organization created by Minnesota’s tobacco settlement, currently provides nearly 70 percent of total funding for cessation and prevention efforts around the state, but the organization is set to sunset in 2022.
Published in the journal Tobacco Control, the study examines ModelHealth Tobacco: Minnesota, a microsimulation model that used smoking prevalence rates to estimate the impact of tobacco control programs and quantify savings from smokers who quit or never started. The researchers used data from 1998 to 2017 to calculate their findings.
The research found that because of Minnesota’s strong tobacco prevention and cessation programs:
- 4,560 cancers were prevented
- 31,691 hospitalizations for smoking-attributable cardiovascular disease and diabetes were prevented
- 12,881 hospitalizations for smoking-attributable respiratory disease were prevented
- 4,118 smoking-attributable deaths were prevented
- $2.7 billion in medical care costs was saved
- $2.4 billion in worker productivity was saved
“For decades, the success of Minnesota’s investment in tobacco control has largely been measured through smoking rates,” said Michael Maciosek, Ph.D., the HealthPartners Institute economist who led the study. “Now for the first time, we have conclusive proof that such efforts truly are preventing disease, saving individuals and employers money, and helping people live longer, healthier lives on a large scale.”
For 20 years, Minnesota has enjoyed one of the most comprehensive tobacco control programs in the nation. Partnerships between state agencies, nonprofits and health insurers have established free quitting resources for Minnesota smokers, helped pass public policies protecting Minnesotans from secondhand smoke and making tobacco products less accessible to youth, funded outreach among diverse communities and created powerful media campaigns, among other achievements.