Gone are the days when designated smoking sections at restaurants and other businesses dictated where you’ve chose to take your family for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I still have foggy memories of how little refuge those sections offered from dangerous second-hand smoke and the foul odor of cigarettes and cigars. Six-years ago, that has changed and I couldn’t be more proud of our state for it.
As I celebrate that victory it is important to remember that it’s a hollow victory. While smoking rates in the state have been decreasing among the general population, rates for African Americans remain high and in fact are the highest in the state (27 percent). African American children in the state also have higher rates of exposure to dangerous secondhand smoke and smoking is still allowed in most multi-unit apartments. Tobacco companies are still targeting minors in low-income neighborhoods with new and flashy products including fruit and candy-flavored e-cigs and cigars, otherwise known as Other Tobacco Products.
And decreases in funding for tobacco prevention have resulted in less residents of Wisconsin receiving life-saving information about the damage of tobacco use and resources to quit. Many in the state don’t even know that you can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free help to quit.
Until those battles are won we must continue to spread the word and never forget the importance of smoke-free policies!
Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network