Wisconsin is doing well at reducing tobacco use through high cigarette taxes and a strong smoke free air law, but falls short in adequately funding programs to prevent youth from starting to smoke and assist smokers in quitting, according to the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2013 report released.
The Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control report tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy.
Wisconsin received the following grades for 2012:
Smoke-free Air – A
Cigarette Tax – B
Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Funding – F
Smoking Cessation Coverage — F
Although Wisconsin receives $718 million in tobacco-related revenue annually, it spends a mere eight percent of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to adequately fund tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs.
“Wisconsin must make it a priority to keep kids off tobacco and to help smokers quit,” said Niki Kostrova, Oneida County Health Department Tobacco Control Coordinator. “We’re doing the best we can with far fewer resources, and the tobacco industry is always looking for new ways to stop our efforts.”
Tobacco causes an estimated 7,240 deaths inWisconsinannually and costs the state’s economy $3.7 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
On a positive note, Wisconsin’s cigarette tax is $2.52, in the top 10 nationally. High prices have been demonstrated to be a deterrent to youth smoking and an incentive for smokers to quit. The tax on other tobacco products however, is considerably less. Tobacco companies continue to introduce and promote new products, such as candy and fruit-flavored cigars and dissolvable tobacco products. The sales and popularity of these tobacco products have surged in large part due to their cheaper price.
“We’re not solving the tobacco problem if kids just switch from one product to another. We have to make sure kids understand that ALL tobacco products are dangerous,” said Kostrova.