Tobacco-Free Living


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NEWS: 2018

Health warning issued by Minnesota Department of Health regarding e-cigarettes and other vaping products.

As students return to school this fall, the MDH has issued a health advisory regarding the latest evidence that early nicotine use increases the risks of addiction for youth now and later in life.

MDH has assembled a toolkit of information, resources, and free curricula to use in your schools, offer to parents, and share with your students. The toolkit provides tools and resources for Minnesota school administrators, educators, teachers and health services staff who are working to address the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products in their schools. The toolkit outlines opportunities for taking action along with resources and tools to help. The toolkit is available here

Nicotine primes the adolescent brain for addiction. Those exposed to nicotine are more likely to use other harmful substances, such as illicit drugs and cigarettes. Because their brains are still developing, kids and teens can become addicted to nicotine more easily than adults.

For the first time since 2000, overall youth tobacco use has increased in Minnesota. The rapid uptake of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices has suddenly reversed a trend of declining teen tobacco use in Minnesota, and recent data show one in five high school students use e-cigarettes, a nearly 50 percent increase since 2014.

Read the MDH news release


Wabasha County SHIP initiates second round of data collection in retail stores.

Wabasha County SHIP is working on a grant with the Minnesota Department of Health, and our goal is to visit and collect data at all 21 retailers across Wabasha County by the end of August 2018. At each retail location, we are looking closely at both the outside and the inside of the store, recording our observations about tobacco products and marketing materials.

The data collector will be in the store for about 10 minutes. We always do our best to stay out of the way of customers and clerks. We do not ask customers any questions. It is important for us to let you know that this is not an inspection or compliance check. Also, the results of our study are kept in summary form—never identifying any one store.

Scroll down to read results of our previous store audits. The story below is entitled American Lung Association of Minnesota shares final grant report.

American Lung Association of Minnesota shares final grant report.

One-on-one  interviews were held with a wide range of engaged community leaders. The cities of Wabasha and Lake City rose to the top as most likely to pass a tobacco policy, however, the reasons were different. Lake City rose to the top because the community has been a leader in SHIP initiatives and may be perceived to be more progressive or health conscious. Wabasha rose to the top largely because of St. Elizabeth’s influence in the community and across the board, they were seen as a key partner and leader in the community.

Electronic cigarettes and chew tobacco rose to the top of concerns. Some felt that the problem was minimal or they were not aware of the issue(s).

Store audits were completed by American Lung Association of Minnesota which found the price of cigarettes are lower in Wabasha County than the state and national averages. A policy to address the minimum price of products, particularly cigars. This is an important consideration because it includes flavored cigars such as grape or strawberry. These products are appealing to youth because of their fruit and candy flavors but are accessible because of their low price.  Youth are purchasing these products for those reasons but they are also used to smoke marijuana.

The audits also found that electronic cigarettes were only available in 50% of tobacco retailers. This is lower than state and national average and while the availability is low, now is the time to address these. This is best completed through indoor air and flavor policies. Given the fact that the tobacco industry is heavily engaged in communities where flavor policies are being discussed, you may consider starting with an indoor air policy. This would provide an opportunity to build capacity while impacting use. Results from store audits were placed into Counter Tools.

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NEWS: 2017


Wabasha County SHIP has contracted with the American Lung Association of Minnesota (ALAMN) and its staff has obtained tobacco licensing information for communities in Wabasha County.

The following will be addressed during this grant cycle...

Our Goal:

To build support for Point of Sale (POS) policy change in Wabasha County.

Our Objective:

To educate and engage the community on tobacco products, youth usage, and other state and community data to support the need for change.


1. ALAMN will work with Wabasha County SHIP staff to raise awareness around the need for POS policy change by:

  • Engaging the CLT in determining priority policy initiatives and populations

  • Educating the community

  • Building the support of community leaders

2. ALAMN will submit a monthly report to Wabasha County identifying progress, barriers and success stories.

3. ALAMN will provide tracking of all work including a database of community members met through one on ones and presentations.