July 5th marked five years since Wisconsin became a smoke-free state! Throughout the month, Milwaukee’s tobacco prevention and control community is celebrating the law for creating safer indoor air-quality in bars and restaurants, healthier bartenders, lower smoking-rates, and even more smoke-free home rules, but also wants to raise awareness that the battle is not over yet.
- The City of Milwaukee Tobacco- Free Alliance
- The Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network
- The Wisconsin Hispanic Latino Tobacco Prevention Network
- The Tobacco Free Community Partnership Dodge Jefferson Waukesha
- Tobacco-Free Suburban Milwaukee and Ozaukee Counties Coalition
- The Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Poverty Network
Their statement reads:
“Wisconsin’s smoke-free law has had an enormous impact on the health of Wisconsin and Milwaukee residents. Because of the law, neither employees nor customers have to worry about being exposed to harmful secondhand smoke in Wisconsin’s workplaces. Five years after the law went into effect, it’s hard to remember the days where we had to choose between ‘smoking’ and ‘non-smoking’ sections. Thankfully, our future generations won’t ever have to make the choice.”
However, challenges remain, especially for diverse populations in Milwaukee and those living in poverty. The tobacco industry continues to disproportionately target urban communities with intense advertising and promotional efforts, leading to much higher tobacco use for those populations. While Wisconsin’s overall smoking rate is 18%, the rate is 26% and 27% for Hispanic/Latino and African Americans respectively. Furthermore, for those with an income of less than $15,000, the rate is 35%. (Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System )
Additionally, the use of smokeless products and e-cigarettes are on the rise—especially among young people. The 2014 Wisconsin Youth Tobacco Survey found that 7.9% of high school youth report using e-cigarettes and nearly 10% of high school youth use smokeless tobacco products.
The groups’ statement concluded “Smoking may be on the decline, but our fight to protect the health of our communities and decrease the disparities is far from over. We remain committed to helping adult tobacco users quit and preventing teens from getting addicted in the first place.”
Supported by the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP), the aforementioned coalitions and networks work to prevent and reduce the death, disease, and health care costs caused by tobacco. Local efforts include youth prevention, community education, reducing tobacco-related health disparities, protecting people from secondhand smoke and treating tobacco addiction. For more tobacco facts and information on local efforts, visit www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/tobacco. Tobacco users who are ready to quit can call 1-800-QUIT NOW for free help and medications.