MINNESOTA (WCCO) – Wednesday the house committee of the Preventive Health Policy Division voted 7-4 to advance a bill that would fund tobacco prevention and raise the price of commercial tobacco products.

The bill was authored by Rep. Jennifer Schultz (DFL-Duluth) and is supported by Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation and its more than 60 organizations.

READ MORE: Daunte Wright Shooting: Fmr. Brooklyn Center Officer Kim Potter Arrested, Will Be Charged With 2nd-Degree Manslaughter

State officials say that a tobacco price increase is overdue in Minnesota as the adult smoking rates and youth tobacco epidemic have slowed during the pandemic.

Rep. Schultz’s bill dedicates $15 million a year of cigarette tax revenues to tobacco prevention and treatment and increases the excise tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1.50.

According to the bill, it will also tax e-cigarette devices as tobacco products, conform to federal e-cigarettes online sales rules, and end the tax break on premium cigars.

The American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network, and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids estimate that a $1.50 per pack increase would lead to major health gains, including 13,200 fewer kids becoming adult smokers, 24,300 adult smokers quitting, and $800 million in long-term health savings.

READ MORE: COVID In Minnesota: 16 Deaths, 1,715 New Cases; Nearly 50% Of Eligible Minnesotans Have Received 1st Vaccine Dose

Molly Moilanen, Vice President at ClearWay Minnesota and co-chair of Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, says that tobacco remains a threat to youth and widening racial disparities.

“Raising tobacco prices and securing sustainable tobacco prevention funding will create a healthier future for Minnesota,” said Moilanen.



MORE NEWS: Derek Chauvin Trial, April 14 Live Updates: Defense's Medical Expert Testifies That George Floyd Died Due To Cardiac Arrhythmia