Wisconsin Ranks 29th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

BY: KATHY STAATS

Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, Wisconsin ranks 29th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released by a coalition of public health organizations earlier this month.

Wisconsin currently spends $5.3 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 8.2 percent of the $64.3 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Wisconsin include:

  • Wisconsin this year will collect $776.4 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 0.7 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Wisconsin is spending less than a penny of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
  • While Wisconsin’s current funding for tobacco prevention is the same as the last two years, it represents a 65 percent cut from the $15.3 million spent in 2009.
  • The tobacco companies spend $145.6 million a year to market their products in Wisconsin. This is 28 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

January 2014 also marks the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. In the 50 years since the release of the first report, 30 additional Surgeon General’s Reports have increased our knowledge and understanding of the devastating health and financial burdens caused by tobacco use.

Wisconsin has been a leader in the fight against tobacco with a cigarette tax of $2.52 per pack, a strong smoke-free workplace law and its tobacco prevention and cessation program. Since 2000, Wisconsin has cut smoking among high school students by 60 percent (from 32.9 percent to 13.1 percent who smoke). However, the state currently is spending only 8.2 percent of what the CDC recommends for tobacco prevention.

“Wisconsin has made tremendous progress in the fight against tobacco. But the state’s gains are at risk unless it restores funding for programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

In Milwaukee, the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance and its many partners are working together to make the community healthier through smoke-free initiatives. One of their major initiatives focuses on youth access and other tobacco products such as flavored tobacco in the form of chew, cigars, snus, and dissolvables. These products are a major priority for tobacco prevention groups because they are deliberately marketed toward youth.

More information, including the full report and more state-specific information, can be obtained at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements.

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