American Lung Association gives Wis. failing grades in tobacco prevention and cessation

By  | 

(WSAW) -- The American Lung Association is out with its State of Tobacco Control report, and Wisconsin largely has failing grades.

Out of five categories, Wisconsin received one 'A' grade and that was for smokefree air, however, the ALA cited there is still room for improvement in that category.

Funding for tobacco prevention efforts, access to services for people to quit tobacco products, and the minimum age for tobacco use received 'Fs' and tobacco taxes received a 'D.'

The ALA listed three calls-to-action for state legislators:
1) Ensure enforcement of the federal legal age limit of 21 for tobacco products
2) Add e-cigarettes to the smokefree air law
3) Require all tobacco products to be placed behind the counter or in a locked cabinet

Jenna Flynn, a Marathon County health educator and the coordinator for the Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition told NewsChannel 7 there has not been much movement since Wisconsin passed the clean indoor air act 10 years ago.

There are a few bills going through the state legislature related to tobacco regulation, including some directly addressing ALA recommendations, such as Senate Bill 245 which would add vaping products and marijuana to the indoor smoking ban, Senate Bill 364 or Assembly Bill 422 which would change the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 matching the federal law, and Senate Bill 118 which would require retailers to place cigarettes, nicotine, and tobacco products in locations that would require a store associate to help customers retrieve the products.

Another bill proposed would provide $2 million in additional funding to the Department of Health Services to develop a public health campaign for e-cigarette prevention, along with a grant to local e-cigarette prevention and cessation programs. Senate Bill 757 would require retailers selling vaping products to obtain a license.

According to the most recent State of Tobacco in Wisconsin report, which is from 2018, state prevention efforts are funded at less than a tenth of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends: $5.3 million compared to $57.5 million. No cigarette tax revenue is directed to fund tobacco control and prevention programming either.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids also compared how much states spend on prevention efforts versus how much tobacco companies spend on marketing in that state. Wisconsin's spending amounts to 3.5% of the tobacco industry's marketing expenditures in the state.