Increasing Rate Of Tobacco Use In Crow Wing County Spurs Tobacco Coalition
The tobacco industry spends $110.5 million each year promoting tobacco products in Minnesota. That amounts to over $12,000 every hour alone. A newly formed coalition in Brainerd is working to combat the rising use of tobacco in Minnesota.
A recent survey conducted by Crow Wing Energized found that the amount of people in Crow Wing County that use tobacco products has increased to 23.3% from 17.7% just in the last four years.
“Between our last two community health surveys there was a five percent increase in tobacco use in Crow Wing County, which is pretty much opposite of all of the national trends,” said Jessica Williams, Crow Wing Energized Community Health Assistant.
The new coalition in Brainerd founded by Crow Wing Energized is working to figure out why.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to get that number down of the overall tobacco use, which right now is about 23 percent,” added Williams. “Almost one in four.”
The rise in tobacco use in the county is surprising and concerning for the coalition.
“Tobacco and smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S,” said Williams.
“It affects overall health. I mean, there’s so many things: diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancers,” said Traci Moreland, who is a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist.
One reason the coalition is looking at why the rate in tobacco use has increased is the emerging popularity of e-cigarettes.
“The use of other devices such as e-cigarettes or vaping is kind of another gateway into using tobacco later on in life,” explained Moreland.
The tobacco coalition has many possible routes that they are looking at taking to reduce tobacco use.
“Some involve things like different media campaigns, educational campaigns. It could also include different things at a policy level, either at the city or a county level,” said Williams.
“I know that they’ve been working in Duluth and Hermantown raising the limit to 21 for buying products hoping to offset the younger youth population starting with any nicotine products,” said Moreland. “Because that can eventually lead in to tobacco use as adults.”
The next meeting of the Tobacco Coalition will be on February 20 at 11:00 a.m. at Essentia – St. Joseph’s Medical Center. Anyone from the community is welcome to attend.