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Smoking Up in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- In news that caught most of the state's health care experts by surprise, a new report shows that Minnesota has the second-highest rate of smoking by young adults in the nation, trailing only Kentucky.

According to a new Hazelden Foundation report on drug trends, Minnesota ranks among the top states in youth substance abuse, including binge drinking and illicit drug use. Information from the report shows:
* Minnesota ranked second highest in the nation in tobacco use among 18 through 25 year-olds (54.9 percent), behind Kentucky (55.2 percent), and compared with 44.4 percent nationally.
The vast majority of patients entering addiction treatment programs reported daily nicotine use.
* Minnesota ranks fourth highest in the nation regarding binge drinking among 18- through 25-year-olds. Almost half (49.5 percent) in this age group binge drink, compared with 37.8 percent nationally and behind North Dakota (54.3 percent), Wyoming (50.7 percent), and Massachusetts (49.7 percent).
* Minnesota ranks 10th for past month illicit drug use among young people (12 through 17 year-olds, and 18 through 25 year-olds).

The report was a surprise to state health official because the Twin Cities has tough smoking regulations and a portion of massive tobacco lawsuit settlement has been set aside to lower the rate of youth smoking. In addition, the state holds routine "sting operations" on retail chains to in an effort to prevent sales of alcohol and tobacco to minors.

"These state estimates should be a wake-up call for everyone concerned about substance abuse among younger Minnesotans," said Carol Falkowski, director of research communications at Hazelden and author of the report.
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