Commercial Tobacco Use

Commercial tobacco is still a problem in Minnesota. 

Fourteen percent of Minnesotans smoke—and the prevalence of commercial tobacco use is much higher among certain groups. But the problem is about more than just numbers. It’s also about the growing influence of new products and the tobacco industry’s targeting of certain populations in our state. 

For example, e-cigarettes, which are gaining in popularity, contain nicotine and other toxic chemicals. They come in candy and fruit flavors that are appealing to children. When used indoors they threaten the integrity of our clean indoor air laws and could help renormalize smoking. E-cigarettes, along with cigars, pipes, waterpipes and smokeless tobacco, make up alternative uses for commercial tobacco beyond cigarettes. Commercial tobacco remains a problem in Minnesota, primarily due to these new types of products. In addition, commercial tobacco companies aggressively target low-income Minnesotans and certain ethnic groups—resulting in higher commercial tobacco use and higher rates of smoking-related disease among these populations. 

Blue Cross has been at the forefront of efforts to reduce commercial tobacco use in Minnesota. Our historic lawsuit against the commercial tobacco industry resulted in changes to how cigarettes and other products could be marketed. We advocated with other community organizations to pass Minnesota’s Freedom to Breathe Act, helping ensure all Minnesotans could breathe clean indoor air. And we helped pass a significant increase in the commercial tobacco tax—one of the proven ways to help people quit smoking. 

But our efforts don’t stop there. We continue to explore ways to reduce commercial tobacco use in communities that are most disproportionately impacted. Our most recent initiative is a funding opportunity that aims to help communities eliminate commercial tobacco inequities. 

We are considering new initiatives that will tackle commercial tobacco use among low-income Minnesotans and those who go straight to work after high school—two groups where use is significantly higher. And through our Health Equity in Prevention funding, we’re helping several organizations address commercial tobacco-related issues at the neighborhood level. 

While Minnesota remains a leader in reducing the harms of commercial tobacco, there’s still work to do.

Related links

  • Making Healthy Choices Possible for All Minnesotans

    The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota tackles the leading causes of preventable disease -- tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating -- to increase health equity, transform communities and create a healthier state.