1. Prevent funding cuts to the statewide Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP);
2. Enact legislation that would require all sales of tobacco products and e-cigarettes to be clerk assisted; and
3. Continue to pass local ordinances that include e-cigarettes in those communities' comprehensive smokefree air laws, setting the groundwork for future state policy.
The American Lung Association in Wisconsin's chief accomplishment in 2016 was defeating a very bad e-cigarette bill that would not only have carved out a special exemption for the use of e-cigarettes in public places, but also would have prohibited local governments from enacting ordinances that aren't in strict compliance with state law. Passage of this law would ultimately have struck down numerous local ordinances that presently include e-cigarette use in their smokefree air policies.
While this effort was going on, the Lung Association continued to support strong local ordinances prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in public places, in preparation for the day when Wisconsin is in the position to add them to its statewide smokefree air law.
Wisconsin also recently launched a new statewide tobacco control coalition which will provide leadership, direction and training/technical assistance for present and future tobacco control work and its partners.
Wisconsin's 2016 Youth Tobacco Survey demonstrates that Wisconsin is following the national trend of reducing cigarette smoking by high school and middle school students, but also shows an alarming increase in the use of other tobacco products (OTPs) - flavored cigars, smokeless tobacco - and e-cigarettes. Middle and high school cigarette smoking rates are presently 1.3 percent and 8.1 percent respectively, down from 2014, however use of e-cigarettes has risen to 2.6 percent and 13.3 percent respectively since 2014 - more than double their previous rates. The new survey results also show an increase in the use of flavored cigars and smokeless tobacco.
Wisconsin can greatly reduce kids' use of flavored tobacco products and e-cigarettes by enacting laws that treat these products the same as cigarettes. While the federal deeming regulation addresses product manufacturing, the rules are silent on issues such as flavorings, licensing, placement and other areas.
In Wisconsin, opportunities exist to address some of those gaps by moving OTPs and e-cigarettes behind counters or in locked cabinets, and creating greater equity in pricing. Presently, OTPs are taxed much lower than cigarettes - e-cigarettes are not taxed at all -- giving them a marked price advantage in addition to their "kid friendly" candy and fruit flavorings. Other equity issues that need to be addressed in 2017 include licensing requirements and free sampling laws.