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Wisconsin losing ground in battle against tobacco

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When it comes to smoking, a new study says Wisconsin is losing ground as compared to the national average.

The national smoking average is 15 percent, while Wisconsin sits at 17.1 percent, according to a new report from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Action Network, American Lung Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report also states that residents’ state and federal tax burden from smoking-caused government expenditures is $787 per family. Meanwhile, the tobacco industry spends $152.5 million marketing in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin also ranks 32nd for anti-tobacco programs, which is not enough according to La Crosse County health educator Judi Zabel. 

“Our outreach to our youth has very much diminished,” she said. “We’re looking at products like little cigars that come in packs, are as cheap as 2 for $1, whereas a pack of cigarettes is between $7-8.”

The report states that 8.1 percent of high school students in Wisconsin smoke.

Zabel says one way to diminish the threat of young people smoking is to tax it higher, making the product unaffordable.

“Most states are nowhere near where they need to be but when you have so many states, like Wisconsin, that are under 10 percent (9.2), its clearly failing miserably and providing funding for prevention and cessation,” John Schacter, director of state communications for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told WPR.

Wisconsin is not alone here, as 29 states and the District of Columbia spend less than 20 percent of what the CDC recommends.

Only two states are over 90 percent of what the CDC recommends on anti-tobacco campaigns in Alaska (93 percent) and California (94 percent).

Born in Decorah Iowa. I've been a news reporter for the last 10 years, starting right out of college in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Other professional opportunities led me to Marshalltown, Iowa and Antigo Wisconsin, before I finally was afforded the opportunity here in La Crosse. I've been here since 2016. I also act as the voice of local sports, doing play by play of high school and college football and basketball. When not working I enjoy golfing.

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