MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s top health official says the state may be slipping in its effort to reduce smoking.

On Thursday’s “World No Tobacco Day,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said Minnesota has seen a reduction in smoking in recent years but the rate of reduction has slowed.

“People are thinking: ‘You know, we’re really making progress. This is a problem that’s gone away. We don’t need to pay attention to it.’ That’s far from the case,” Ehlinger said.

Ehlinger notes that tobacco companies are aggressive in marketing their products to targeted groups.

“They’re looking at populations of color and low income populations to try to get addicted to this product,” he said.

Ehlinger says tobacco companies spent $200 million on marketing efforts in Minnesota in 2009.

More than 625,000 Minnesotans still smoke, and 5,100 die from tobacco illnesses each year.


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