State of Tobacco Control Report

Wisconsin State Facts

Adult Prevalence:
High School Smoking Rate:
Middle School Smoking Rate:
Smoking Attributable Deaths:
Smoking Attributable Lung Cancer Deaths:
Smoking Attributable Respiratory Disease Deaths:


The American Lung Association in Wisconsin works as a leading member of the statewide coalition to reduce tobacco use by Wisconsin residents and protect non-smokers from involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke. We do so by advocating for high prices for tobacco products through increased excise taxes, by aggressively working toward achieving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended level of funding for the state tobacco control and prevention program and by promoting and advancing smokefree air.

Recent Legislative Efforts

The past year was a wild roller coaster ride of incredible highs coupled with "crash and burn" lows. After repeated and frustratingly unfruitful attempts to pass statewide smokefree air legislation, Wisconsin finally passed a strong, comprehensive law that covers all workplaces, including taverns and restaurants, and public places. The law is also the first in the nation to totally prohibit smoking in hotels, motels and B&B's. One compromise that tobacco control advocates had to make was a delayed implementation date of July 5, 2010.


Cigarette Tax

A poor economy also helped tobacco control efforts. The 2009 state budget included a 75-cent increase in the cigarette tax, bringing Wisconsin's tax to $2.52 per pack, sixth highest in the nation. That follows on the heels of a 62 cent increase in the federal cigarette tax in 2009, and an additional $1.00 state increase in the 2007 budget, bringing the cost of a pack of cigarettes in Wisconsin up to $6.00 to $7.00 per pack.

Budget Cuts

Unfortunately, the poor economy also resulted in drastic cuts to the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP). The legislature cut funding from $15 million per year to $6.85 million - a 55 percent reduction. The timing is particularly ironic - and unfortunate - as the increased cigarette tax and smokefree air law will undoubtedly increase demand for cessation services, while the resources to provide these services will be cut. The Lung Association is seeking to restore a portion of TPCP funding through a bill that would lower the rebate paid to tobacco distributors for applying the required state tax stamp to each package.

The TPCP remains a critical component in fighting tobacco use in Wisconsin. Since the program's inception in 2000, middle school smoking has dropped by 65 percent, high school smoking rates have declined by 36 percent, and adult smoking rates have fallen below 20 percent for the first time in history. Restoring even a portion of the funding will have a dramatic impact on helping smokers quit and preventing youth initiation.

In 2010, the American Lung Association in Wisconsin also will focus on implementing the smokefree air law and ensuring maximum compliance.

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