Some might call it a 'penalty tax', some have called it a 'poor tax'. Both are just propaganda spread by the out-of-control tobacco industry. Governor Dayton has proposed a hike on the current Minnesota cigarette tax by 94 cents per pack. This proposal would generate $370 million in new revenue for the state; but that revenue would be dwarfed by the short-term and long-term savings it generates by preventing deadly disease and tackling runaway health care costs.

However, the American Cancer Society thinks we should take it step further and, instead of 94 cents, hike the tax to $1.60. Currently we rank 28th in terms of tax rates for cigarettes. This compares to a high of $4.35 per pack in New York and a low of 17 cents per pack in Missouri. Raising Minnesota’s cigarette tax by 94 cents per pack would more closely align our tobacco tax rate with neighboring Wisconsin. If the rate were increased to $1.60 per pack, Minnesota would only move to 21st among all states for cigarette taxes.

A new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows Minnesota has slipped out of the top 10 among states with the lowest smoking rates.

We brought Matt Shafer, the State Government Relations Director at the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network on The Pete & Doug Show to explain why raising the tax is a good thing. Some of the statistics he shared with us were shocking.

Matt talked about how to take action and support this proposal, as well as how this increase would cut youth smoking by 11% and save the state more than $10 billion in healthcare costs over the next 5 years.

You can make a difference by showing up at Minnesota’s Raise it for Health Day at the Capitol on Thursday, April 18.

Listen to the Entire Interview With Matt Shafer

Watch Last Year's 'Day At The Capital'