Tobacco-related disease is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 1,200 Americans every day and 5,000 Minnesotans each year. The implications related to tobacco use continue to be a huge concern, especially in terms of health care costs. According to the 2010 Healthcare Costs and Smoking report, smoking was responsible for $2.87 billion in excess medical care in Minnesota in 2007—a per capita cost of $554 for every man, woman and child in the state. $2.87 billion could buy our state five brand new Target Fields or pay four years of tuition for 57,000 students.
Despite these humongous figures staring at us, the Northwest Hennepin Human Services Council (NWHHSC) recently received notification that its Tobacco-Free Youth (TFY)-Start Noticing program will not receive funding in 2011, ending a program that has worked since 2007 to prevent youth tobacco use by countering tobacco industry tactics to hook kids.