Smoking Claims More Than 6,500 Lives, Costs Minnesota Over $9 Billion Annually 

New report commissioned by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota exposes the ramifications of smoking on health and the economy

 A new report commissioned by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) shows that smoking is responsible for 6,530 deaths and $9.4 billion in healthcare expenses and lost productivity costs. The report highlights the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address smoking-related health issues and inequities in Minnesota. Not only does smoking result in a high number of deaths each year, but it also places an enormous burden on the state's healthcare system, with billions of dollars being spent on treating preventable diseases and conditions related to smoking. 

The economic impact of excess health care costs associated with smoking is staggering, with taxpayers, employers, and governments collectively paying $824 for every adult and child in the state. To put this into perspective, the $4.7 billion in excess health care costs associated with smoking could also fund:

  • Building 471 community centers 
  • One year of K-12 education for 273,768 students 
  • Four U.S Bank stadiums 
  • 16 years of maintenance for all MN state parks, lakes, and recreational facilities 
  • 94,160 jobs at $50K a year

There were 6,530 deaths that can be attributed to smoking in Minnesota in 2021, which adds up to approximately 81,000 years of potential life lost and about $4.7 billion in lost productivity. When considering both healthcare expenses and lost productivity, the cost of smoking in Minnesota skyrockets to an estimated $9.4 billion. This broader perspective considers not only the direct medical expenses but also factors in the indirect costs associated with decreased productivity due to illness, disability, and premature death caused by smoking. 

“We know the overall smoking rate in Minnesota continues to decrease, and we have seen considerable progress with the passing and implementation of policies that safeguard the well-being of Minnesotans,” said Bukata Hayes, vice president, racial and health equity, and chief equity officer at Blue Cross. “Yet, marginalized communities continue to be disproportionately targeted by Big Tobacco and have higher rates of commercial tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. We have a collective obligation to prioritize reducing the burden that smoking and other commercial tobacco-related health inequities impose on our state.”  

Research for the report was completed through a consulting agreement with Dr. Ce Shang, Associate Professor at the Ohio State University, and Qian Yang MPH, Clinical Research Specialist at the Ohio State University. Learn more and read the full report here.

About the Center for Prevention  

The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota advances racial and health equity to transform communities for a healthier Minnesota. Funded through proceeds from Blue Cross’ historic lawsuit against the tobacco industry, The Center invests in community funding programs, public awareness campaigns, and actively advocates for policies, systems and environmental changes to advance community health and health equity across the state. Visit for more information.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

For 90 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota ( has supported the health, wellbeing and peace of mind of our members by striving to ensure equitable access to high quality care at an affordable price. Our 2.5 million members can be found in every Minnesota county, all 50 states and on four continents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.


Source: The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota