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Editorial: A proud anti-tobacco legacy

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Cheers to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, for five decades of public health advocacy on the issue of smoking and health.

A new report, which comes 50 years after the first ever Surgeon General’s report on smoking, will cover the history of tobacco use over the last half-century, share new findings on health effects from smoking and discuss how to end the continuing tobacco use epidemic.

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Released on Jan. 11, 1964, the original Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health linked smoking with lung cancer and heart disease for the first time.

According to ClearWay Minnesota, the report is credited with beginning decades of public health efforts to reduce tobacco use in this country.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association says those efforts have added almost 20 years of longevity to the lives of 8 million Americans by preventing tobacco use and helping individuals quit.

“We’ve made considerable progress since the first Surgeon General’s report, but the impact of tobacco on Minnesotans’ health and finances remains staggering,” said David Willoughby, Chief Executive Officer of ClearWay Minnesota, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing tobacco’s harm in Minnesota. “Smoking is still a leading cause of preventable death and disease and costs Minnesota nearly $3 billion in excess medical costs each year.”

Minnesota has long been a key state in U.S. tobacco control efforts. In 1975, it became the first state to enact a Clean Indoor Air Act, which limited smoking in indoor public spaces and mandated “no-smoking” sections in restaurants.

In addition, Minnesota’s lawsuit against the tobacco companies in the 1990s broke new ground, resulting in heavy legal restrictions on tobacco marketing. The lawsuit also revealed millions of secret tobacco industry documents, which clearly showed intentional deception and targeting of youth.

In Minnesota, approximately 625,000 adults and 77,000 kids are current smokers. All Minnesotans have access to free support to quit smoking through Quitplan Services. That support can make the difference between a failed attempt to stop using tobacco and a successful one. Use it.

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Jeers to Keith Downey, chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota, for the stridently partisan, and very misleading, news release he sent out recently attacking DFL Sen. Kent Eken and 12 other DFL senators.

He is unfairly trying to tar Eken and others by stretching a legitimate finding by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board against the Senate DFL Caucus campaign committee.

“Kent Eken has been caught up in the biggest campaign cheating scandal in Minnesota history,” Downey says in the news release.

OK. But not really. The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board found all the candidates faultless in the case, which involved the use of candidate photographs used for campaign purposes.

“It’s really over the top, it’s just ridiculous,” Eken said in an interview. “It follows the pattern of the last campaign,” in which he was wrongly accused in attack ads of supporting the so-called Granny Tax.

State voters deserve better.

FORUM NEWS SERVICE

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Forum News Service
The Forum Communications News Service is the premier news wire service covering the Upper Midwest, stretching from the oilfields of western North Dakota to the plains of South Dakota and to the shores of eastern Minnesota. For more information about the services we offer or to discuss content subscriptions, please contact us.
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