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Cigarette tax reaction

THUMBS UP: The reaction of smokers to the new, higher cigarette tax was about what we would have expected. Smokers stocked up over the weekend in anticipation of the $1.60 per pack hike in the tax on cigarettes.

Sooner or later, however, cigarette smokers are going to face the higher cost. The biggest stockpile of cigarettes is going to run out eventually.

When that happens, we hope many smokers will consider the best alternative to paying the tax, and that is to give up smoking for good. Mark Twain once said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” Giving up smoking for good, however, can be devilishly hard.

There are many good programs that can help people who want to quit. Check online at for some free options, or go to the Minnesota Department of Health’s site for more resources.

Hospital ratings

THUMBS UP: Good health care is an important part of anyone’s quality of life. In this part of Minnesota, we are fortunate to have several good providers.

Recently, Becker’s Hospital Review prpoduced a list of “100 Great Community Hospitals.” Becker’s based its reviews on quality of care and service to the community, and looked at hospitals with fewer than 550 beds, with minimal teaching programs, mostly in rural areas.

Two area hospitals were on the list: New Ulm Medical Center and Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield. Both have the benefit of being aligned with two of the largest health care providers in the state. NUMC?is part of the 11-hospital Allina system, and Springfield is part of the Mayo Clinic system. Both have rated high in the iVantage Health Analytics ratings of Critical Access Hospitals in the country. Both are working at offering expanded services to their patients in the region.

Congratulations to both.

You’re never too old

THUMBS UP: We have to salute the energy and spirit of a couple of our local senior citizens this week. On Tuesday, Gerald Olson of New?Ulm got on his bicycle and started riding. The 71-year-old kept going until he hit the 100-mile mark. He said he just did it to see if he could do it.

And on Friday, Edna Roegiers, 84, of New Ulm went skydiving, something she has wanted to do, her stepdaughter said, “since she was 80.”

That’s the way to live.

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