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Published February 17, 2011, 08:42 PM

More Minnesotans Kicking Smoking Habit

New numbers show decrease in smoking among adults
Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey results released last week say only 16.1 percent of adults in the state are smokers.

New numbers are out showing a significant change in tobacco use in Minnesota.

A Polk County Health official says these numbers show people in Minnesota are breathing a little easier.

The new survey numbers show as a state, over six percent more Minnesotans have quit smoking.

Polk County health educator D'Anne Johnson equates her goal for a smoke-free state to a story about her young son, when he saw something unusual.

"He didn't know what a rotary phone was! I'm hoping our kindergartners don't know what an ashtray is," Johnson said.

Minnesota might be closer to that goal. Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey results released last week say only 16.1 percent of adults in the state are smokers.

"That is a huge reduction. In 1999 it was 22.1 percent," Johnson said.

Johnson credits this success partly because of the Freedom to Breathe Act, a law passed in 2007 making it illegal to smoke in bars, restaurants and businesses.

Polk County Health does its part locally to teach kids about the dangers of smoking. Prevention lessons start in schools like in East Grand Forks.

"We go to middle schools and talk to them about why they should say no and what ways to say it," East Grand Forks high school senior Whitney Shoemaker said.

With these efforts, along with increases in cigarette sales tax, Minnesota is one of the leaders in putting out that cigarette for good.

"People are supporting it. They're not fighting it. They're following the law," Johnson said.

According to the centers for disease control and prevention cigarette sales in Minnesota have decreased 40 percent.

Johnson says they want to continue prevention education in schools and to keep adding to those programs.

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