Members of the Wisconsin Latino/Hispanic Tobacco Prevention Network gathered June 5 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the state’s ban on smoking. Wisconsin is one of 27 states that have banned smoking in enclosed public spaces.
“It feels great to be able to be able to go into a restaurant and actually taste your food,” said former smoker Nedda Avila, of Community Advocates.
Avila, who’d smoked for decades, quit after her doctor found two blood clots on her lungs.
According to smokefree.gov, 18.7 percent of Wisconsin’s adult population smokes, though the danger of tobacco use isn’t limited to adults.
Fighting Against Corporate Tobacco (FACT) a Milwaukee-based anti-smoking group, claims that 17.7 percent of Wisconsin high school students are smokers.
Tobacco Teen Advisory Committee of UMOS, whose members were also on hand for the celebration, attribute the high number of young smokers to the targeting of tobacco products, including fruit-flavored cigars and cigarettes, to teens.
The teens protested the practice by spraying the FACT slogan, “Manipulicious,” on the sidewalk surrounding Tres Hermanos restaurant, 1332 W. Lincoln Ave., where the event was held.
The committee’s goal is to educate other teens about the dangers of smoking.
Martha Castro, a member of the teen committee, said that in addition to her parents, she sees a lot of kids smoking.
“To me it’s not cool; It gets you sick, gives you yellow teeth and looks bad,” Castro said.
According to Tina Rivera, tobacco program coordinator at UMOS, Castro is not alone. Rivera believes that nowadays many teens look at smoking differently than in the past, and that the ban has had a positive impact on area youth.
“Because of the ban and also outreach from other teens, they’re taking notice and becoming more aware of the harms of tobacco and staying away from it,” Rivera said.