The American Lung Association has released the 11th annual State of Tobacco Control Report with good news and bad news for Wisconsin. While we have a strong smoke free air law that protects people from secondhand smoke and a high cigarette tax that discourages kids from smoking, taxes on other tobacco products such as little cigars are far lower, making them more appealing to some kids. Many of these alternatives come in fruit and candy flavors, in packaging that mimics candy and mints. I confess that I can hardly tell the difference!
On a related note, Wisconsin takes in $718 million each year in tobacco revenues but only spends $5.3 million to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. And still the program achieves a high rate of success, with teen smoking at an all-time low. It’s an investment that more than pays for itself. However, even with the program’s impressive accomplishments, there is far more work to be done in Wisconsin.
Tobacco use is still the #1 cause of preventable death and costs Wisconsin residents $3.7 billion each year in healthcare costs and lost productivity. Over 7,000 Wisconsinites still die from tobacco use. That’s much too high a price to pay.
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