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“Wisconsin employees and customers are healthier as a result of the state’s smoke-free law”, says Elizabeth Hagen of the Western Wisconsin Working for Tobacco-Free Living Collation (W3TFL).
“Since the law took effect in 2010, we’ve seen less smoking, better indoor air quality and bartender health, and more smoke-free home rules” said Mary Boe Coordinator for W3TFL. “In just five years, the law has reshaped social norms around smoking and improved the health of Wisconsinites statewide.”
Health advocates say the combination of the smoke-free law, higher tobacco prices, and the state’s comprehensive tobacco prevention and control program have driven youth and adult smoking rates to all-time lows.
However, says Elizabeth Hagen, there is still much more work to be done to reduce tobacco’s burden on the state.
“Even though our smoking rates are down, we’re seeing more people using other types of tobacco products, like smokeless tobacco, little cigars, and e-cigarettes”. “This is especially a problem with our youth.”
Data from the 2014 Wisconsin Youth Tobacco Survey reports around 10% of Wisconsin high school students currently use smokeless tobacco products and around 8% report using e-cigarettes. National data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control also shows more youth turning to e-cigarettes—with high school use of the products tripling in just the last year.
“Sometimes there’s a perception that tobacco isn’t a problem anymore because of the smoke-free law, but it’s important to remember that tobacco still takes a toll on our state” continued Elizabeth. “Tobacco costs us $4.6 billion annually in health care and lost productivity. 7,000 Wisconsin lives are also lost to tobacco-related illness each year. We have to continue our efforts to help adults quit tobacco products and prevent youth from ever starting the deadly addiction.
Adult tobacco users who are ready to quit can receive free help and medications by calling the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW.
For more on local tobacco prevention control efforts you can visit the W3TFL website at www.W3TFL.org, and like W3TFL on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/W3TFL