MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A statewide tobacco control program has saved more than 4,000 lives and $5 billion in health care and productivity costs, a new Minnesota study reports.

Research conducted by HealthPartners and ClearWay Minnesota validates two decades’ worth of smoking prevention efforts.

“These findings show the importance of investing in tobacco prevention and cessation, both statewide and locally,” said Ann St. Claire, study co-author and Director of Evaluation and Survey Research at ClearWay Minnesota.

According to the study, Minnesota’s strong tobacco control programs also prevented over 4,000 cases of cancer and 43,000 hospitalizations for smoking-attributable diseases.

ClearWay Minnesota currently provides nearly 70 percent of total funding for statewide prevention efforts. However, funding for the organization is set to expire by 2022.

“With the impending end of ClearWay Minnesota, big changes are on the horizon,” St. Claire said. “In order for these effects to continue growing, Minnesota will need to continue and expand similar efforts into the future.”

Minnesota is home to one of the most comprehensive tobacco control programs in the nation. Collaboration between state agencies, nonprofits, and health insurers provide free quitting resources for Minnesota smokers and protect youth from secondhand smoke.

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