The American Lung Association’s 20th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today, finds that Wisconsin had failing grades on passing policies to reduce and prevent tobacco use, including e-cigarettes.
The “State of Tobacco Control” report evaluates state and federal policymakers on actions taken to eliminate tobacco use, the nation’s leading cause of preventable death. The report also recommends proven-effective tobacco control laws and policies to save lives.
Here in Wisconsin in the last 20 years, lawmakers have made significant strides to reduce tobacco use, like passing a comprehensive smokefree law, which helped foster the decline in the smoking rate from 2003 to 2020, however, there is more work to be done. The adult smoking rate is still 15.5%, and the high school tobacco use rate is 22.2%.
“While we have seen considerable progress in Wisconsin, tobacco use remains our leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 7,850 lives each year,” said Molly Collins, advocacy director at the Lung Association. “And our progress on tobacco control policy has not been equal. We continue to see the unequal burden of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in communities experiencing health disparities.”
“State of Tobacco Control” 2022 grades states and the District of Columbia in five areas that have been proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives. Wisconsin received the following grades:
Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
Strength of Smokefree Air Laws – Grade A
Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade D
Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade F
Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade F
This year’s report noted the need for Wisconsin policymakers to focus on increasing funding for tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs and creating tobacco tax parity between all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
“Despite receiving $747,400,000 from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, Wisconsin only funds tobacco control efforts at 12.0% the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Lung Association believes the funds should be used to support the health of our communities, and to prevent tobacco use and help people quit, and not switch to e-cigarettes. These programs are also critical for helping to end tobacco-related health disparities,” said Collins. “We also must equalize the tax on tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigars, which will help encourage people to quit.”
Federal Grades Overview
Nationally, the report reveals significant progress in the work to end tobacco use, but products like e-cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, create concern for losing another generation to nicotine addiction.
“State of Tobacco Control” 2022 also grades the federal government in five areas:
Federal Government Regulation of Tobacco Products (2022 grade – D)
Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments (2022 grade – D)
Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes (2022 grade – F)
Federal Mass Media Campaigns to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use (2022 grade – A)
Federal Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 (2022 grade – I*)
*The Incomplete grade is for the FDA being more than 18 months overdue in publishing the final Tobacco 21 regulations as required by statute.
“In 2022, Wisconsin needs to redouble its efforts to pass the proven policies called for in ‘State of Tobacco Control’ to help end tobacco use. We cannot afford to wait 20 more years and allow another generation to suffer from tobacco-caused addiction, disease and death,” said Collins.