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Wisconsin’s Tobacco Control Report Card: Good News, Bad News
2009 Fight for Clean Air Succeeds, Prevention Funding is Slashed
Editor’s Note: Complete report including federal and state grades available at:
www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org; Wisconsin-specific data attached
(BROOKFIELD, WI) [Embargoed Until 12/8/10]—Wisconsin’s tobacco control
policies earned mixed grades, with failing marks for Tobacco Control and
Prevention Program (TPCP) funding, and “B’s” for Cigarette Tax and Smoking
Cessation Resources in the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco
Control 2009 report released today. The fourth category, Smoke Free Air,
received an “Incomplete” because Act 12, Wisconsin’s smoke free air law that
passed last spring, has not yet been implemented. That will occur on July 5.
Grades reflect improvements in all categories, but also a drastic setback for the
state’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program which was cut by 55 percent in
the 2009 budget.
The annual report card is a vital measure of Wisconsin’s progress in combating
death and disease caused by tobacco use. In this battle, the stakes are
“Although the report card gives grades for the adequacy of tobacco control
programs, this exercise isn’t academic,” said Sue Swan, Executive Director for
the American Lung Association in Wisconsin. “The consequences of success or
failure are life or death.”
“Wisconsin leaders are to be commended for the progress that’s been made so
far to reduce smoking, but they still need to implement the full range of policies
proven to prevent death and disease caused by tobacco use. This includes
having a fully functional, statewide prevention program,” added Swan. “The
American Lung Association worked hard to protect this valuable program from
yet more cuts, but this effort was defeated because of the poor economy.
However, while all other state programs were cut by five to 10 percent, the
TPCP was slashed by more than half. That’s devastating.”
The cuts came as the TPCP was demonstrating measureable success. The latest Wisconsin
Behavior Risk Factor Survey (BRFS) indicates that youth smoking rates have dropped 20 percent
in just two years. Adults smoking rates also fell to below 20 percent for the first time in history.
However, those gains cannot be sustained without a comprehensive program with adequate
funding. The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends $64 million per year to run
an effective program in Wisconsin. The TPCP is funded at $8 million, or 12.5 percent of the
“These cuts come at a particularly bad time, when the price of cigarettes is higher than it’s ever
been, and the smoke free air law will begin in July,” added Swan. “We must be sure that the
resources are there to help people quit smoking and preventing more youth from starting,
otherwise we’ll lose all the progress we’ve made.”
State of Tobacco Control 2009 grades states and the District of Columbia on smokefree air laws;
cigarette tax rates; tobacco prevention and control program funding; and coverage of cessation
treatments and services, designed to help smokers quit.
Tobacco-related illness remains the number-one preventable cause of death in the U.S. and is
responsible for an estimated 7,240 deaths in Wisconsin. Another 50,000 Americans die from
exposure to secondhand smoke. The U.S. Surgeon General has declared that there is no safe
level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Tobacco use costs the state $3.5 billion annually.
To calculate grades published in State of Tobacco Control 2009, the American Lung Association
compared policies against targets based on the most current, recognized scientific criteria for
effective tobacco control, or policies that are the best in the nation.
Six states—Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia—received
all “F’s.” No state earned straight “A’s” in State of Tobacco Control 2009. Facing record budget
deficits, 14 states, including Wisconsin, turned to cigarette taxes to increase revenues.
Nonetheless, only four states qualified for an “A” grade in this category by imposing cigarette
excise taxes of $2.68 or more. Wisconsin’s tax is $2.52 per pack.
Four proven policies to save lives and cut health care costs are higher tobacco taxes, prevention
and control programs funded at the levels recommended by the CDC, comprehensive smoke
free air laws and coverage of cessation treatments. Many states, however, continue to fail to
enact these critical policy measures.
SOTC – page three
In addition to Wisconsin, nine states and the District of Columbia made alarming cuts of 25
percent or more to their tobacco control programs. These cuts undermine progress because a
robust tobacco prevention and control program sustains and even expands the impact of higher
cigarette taxes and smoke free workplace laws.
The federal government took major and meaningful steps in 2009 to curb the burden caused by
tobacco use. For two decades the American Lung Association has sought legislation for FDA
regulation of tobacco products. Congress finally passed the legislation early in 2009. President
Obama signed it June 22.
Congress also more than doubled the federal cigarette tax, from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack. In
addition, both chambers of Congress passed health care reform legislation that could expand
coverage under Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance for helping smokers quit .
The 2009 annual report card gives the federal government an “A” for FDA regulation of tobacco
products and a “D” for the federal cigarette tax, along with an “F” for cessation coverage and a
“D” for ratification of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (a treaty aimed at
reducing tobacco use globally). The Obama administration has not submitted the treaty to the
Senate for ratification, leaving the U.S. unable to participate in talks to implement and enforce
Wisconsin is one of 26 states that have passed comprehensive smoke free workplace laws
protecting the public and workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. The American Lung
Association is dedicated to protecting each and every American from secondhand smoke
through its Smoke Free Air Challenge, a nationwide campaign to eliminate exposure to
secondhand smoke in all work and public places.
About the American Lung Association:
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by
improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is
"Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung
Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lungwi.org.