Twin Cities smokers' numbers drop by half since 1980

Not as much fun as it used to be.

Not as much fun as it used to be.

The number of Minnesota adults who smoke cigarettes has dropped by about half since 1980, according to new numbers presented recently to an American Heart Association gathering.

The findings are emblematic of a larger trend. Like Americans in general, most Minnesotans have come of age in a time during which everyone knows that cigarette smoking is addictive, causes cancer, and just ain't as plain ol' cool as those characters on "Mad Men" would have everyone believe.


The face-to-face survey of about 6,000 adults showed that the prevalence of current smokers here declined dramatically from 32.8 percent of men and 32.7 of women in 1980, to 15.5 percent of men and 12.2 percent of women in 2009.

The number of people who said they have ever smoked at least 100 cigarettes also dropped sharply, from 71.6 percent of men in 1980 to 44.2 percent of men in 2009. The numbers for women also dropped, but not as sharply.

It's hardly a surprise, the study's lead author, University of Minnesota researcher Kristian B. Filion, told the Pioneer Press. "We're now looking at people who've spent much -- if not all -- of their life in an environment where the harmful effects of smoking are known."

We're also looking at people who are a lost market for Big Tobacco, thanks to the concerted efforts of U.S. public health workers and federal regulatory agencies. Check out the newest tactic in scaring the bejesus out of smokers: Pictures showing corpses, disfigurement and diseased organs may soon soon adorn cigarette packages.

Having failed here to find a growing customer base because of health awareness campaigns and curbs on its own advertising, cigarette makers have gone overseas to lure new users and harass governments.

At the least the air is clearer here in Minnesota.