The American Lung Association recently 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 like little cigars and chewing tobacco are low, making them more appealing to some kids.
Many of these alternative tobacco products come in fruit and candy flavors with packaging that makes them look like candy. When you are in local retailers shops, take a look at these alternative products. The first time I saw them I actually thought some of the products were candy before I took a closer look.
Wisconsin takes in $718 million each year in tobacco revenues. The state only spends $5.3 million of this money to prevent kids from starting to smoke and help adults quit. With this very low investment, the program has achieved a high rate of success with teen smoking now at an all time low.
We can all be proud of the progress we have made to reduce teen smoking in Wisconsin but there is far more work to be done.
Over 7,000 Wisconsinites still die from tobacco use. Tobacco continues to be the No. 1 cause of preventable death and costs Wisconsin residents $3.7 billion each year in health care costs and lost productivity. If you still are a tobacco user, call the Wisconsin Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669) to develop a quit plan. Quitting will set a good example for the kids in your life. It can save your life and theirs.