More than 26 percent of high-schoolers use tobacco. That's up 7 percent from 2014. And that's why tobacco is still a harmful problem for Minnesota kids.

Let's Keep Flavored Tobacco Away From Kids >

Candy, fruit and menthol flavors appeal to kids. In Minnesota, more than 60 percent of students who use tobacco smoke, vape or chew these tempting flavors. When it comes to menthol cigarettes in particular, teens smokers use them more than adult smokers.

If we take flavored tobacco out of convenience stores, we can reduce the number of teens who use it and get hooked on nicotine. Let’s work to make sure all flavored tobacco products—including menthol cigarettes—are solely available in adults-only tobacco shops.

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Let’s Raise the Tobacco Age to 21 >

Smokers start young. Almost 95 percent of addicted adult smokers start before age 21. That’s part of the reason why 75 percent of American adults, including 70 percent of current smokers, support raising the tobacco age to 21.

At home here in Minnesota, raising the age to 21 can make a big difference. We could prevent 30,000 Minnesota kids from smoking over the next 15 years.

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Let's Keep Cigarette Prices High >

Every 10 percent increase in the price of tobacco reduces the number of youth who smoke by 5 percent and keeps another 10 percent from ever starting.

The 2013 tobacco tax increase is working in Minnesota. How? For the first time ever, the Minnesota Youth Tobacco survey showed that less than 10 percent of high-schoolers smoke cigarettes. And it’s not only protecting youth from smoking, it’s protecting Minnesota from $3 billion in health care costs.

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Let's Up Our Tobacco Control Support >

2,500 Minnesota kids become new daily smokers each year. By increasing our funding of comprehensive tobacco control programs, we can help stop Minnesota youth from starting, as well as offer support to Minnesotans who want to quit smoking. In 2015, Minnesota spent just 42 percent of what CDC recommends for an effective program.

The effort is well worth it as smoking costs us a lot every year in Minnesota— $7 billion in excess health care costs and lost productivity and more than 6,300 lives. Current quitting services will end in 2020. That is why Minnesota needs to make funding for ongoing cessation a priority.

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For information about talking to your kids about smoking, click here.